Maine Public, Press Herald quote Olsen in reports on state bird debate

Maine Public and the Portland Press Herald quoted Brian Olsen, an associate professor of biology and ecology and chair of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology at the University of Maine, in reports on the debate over whether Maine’s state bird should be the black-capped chickadee or the boreal chickadee. Olsen was one of two ornithologists who spoke to lawmakers Feb. 27, based on their expertise. According to Olsen, the black-capped chickadee has a spring song and, “That song is not flashy, nor presumptuous. It just gets the job done.” The song is distinct from the call typically associated with the black-capped. “You might not know, but the black-cap chickadee call, that very charismatic ‘chicka-dee-dee-dee,’ the number of ‘dees’ at the end is a judgement that the chickadee makes about how dangerous a particular threat would be,” Olsen said. The boreal chickadee, on the other hand, has no song. “Not frivolous birds, the boreal chickadees,” he said. They do have a unique call, but many who have not been in the boreal forests of northern Maine likely have not heard it or seen the bird. The Maine Legislature named “the chickadee” the state bird in 1927, but did not specify which species. Now lawmakers are considering a bill to choose one species over the other, Maine Public reported. Olsen has not taken a side, but he noted other reasons to choose one species. “The black-capped is already on the license plate, so that choice would be efficient,” he said. “And in support of the boreal, I will say the only other state that has the black-capped chickadee is Massachusetts. And I’ll leave it at that.” Olsen said the issue is divisive, and suggested Maine could instead adopt the common loon as the state bird. The Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel and Journal Tribune published the Press Herald article, and the Bangor Daily News and Vermont Public Radio carried the Maine Public report.