ANNAPOLIS - The raven will not fly with the Baltimore oriole after
A House panel Tuesday killed a proposal to make the raven the second
state bird, joining the Baltimore oriole.
The House Commerce and Government Matters Committee split 10-10 with
one delegate absent during Tuesday's voting session.
The raven got its boost as a state symbol after the National Football
League Baltimore Ravens won the Superbowl in January. The Ravens' playoff
success spawned violet-hued suits and official team jerseys worn on the
floor of the General Assembly.
But the state bird bid isn't having the same super success as either
the football team or another bill this session to name the calico cat as
the state's official feline, which passed the House but is stalled in the
A proposal to make the Patuxent River agate the state gem, however,
died Tuesday in committee with the raven.
"We don't need another bird," said Delegate John S. Arnick,
D-Baltimore County, who voted against the proposal. "People don't know
the difference between the raven and another black bird."
But the raven is not just another bird, nor merely the mascot of
Baltimore's NFL team, said Delegate Nathaniel T. Oaks, D-Baltimore. It's
also a symbol of black strength.
"The problem is that it's a black bird," said Oaks, a black legislator
from West Baltimore who sponsored the measure. "And the state is not
ready for a black bird."
However, it's a rare bird in Maryland. Only 20 raven nests are spotted
in the state every year, according to the Department of Natural
"That's right. No one knows it exists," Arnick said.
But at least one supporter thinks it deserves special recognition.
"We should honor the raven by giving it the same status as the
oriole," said Delegate Maggie L. McIntosh, D-Baltimore County.
But since the raven is so rare in the state, she said, it might have a
better chance of becoming a state symbol in another category: state poem.
And the prime candidate for this honor would be "The Raven," by one-time
Baltimore resident Edgar Allan Poe.
Copyright © 2001 University of Maryland College of Journalism.