Rap Battle: Meadowlark vs. Osprey

May 23, 2017

After 90 years of service, the western meadowlark is on the verge of being replaced by the osprey as Oregon’s official state bird. (Read text of the senate resolution here.) Both species are native to Oregon’s north coast, and both can be found on North Coast Land Conservancy lands; read Mike Patterson’s 2014 blog post about meadowlarks, and take a look at the live osprey cam in Seaside’s Broadway Park.

Proponents note that Oregon shares the meadowlark with five other states, all claiming it as their state bird, and they point out that few Oregonians have even seen an example of their state bird in nature. To which opponents respond that this is hardly the time to abandon the meadowlark, a vulnerable species whose numbers have been dwindling as it loses habitat to development. The rhetoric has been heated at times, such as this from State Senator Betsy Johnson, defending the meadowlark: “(We) drive a dagger through the soft downy breast of this feathered harbinger of spring. We should be ashamed.”

Should we? We posed the question to Mark Mizell’s creative writing class at Seaside High School. The students responded with this collective rap battle, illustrated with photos by Gearhart naturalist Neal Maine.

Male osprey brings a fish to juvenile in the nest at Broadway Park in Seaside; female is perched above the camera at right.

Ospreys are the best,

Meadowlarks are just a pest.

Meadowlark shouldn’t even be a word,

Make the osprey Oregon’s state bird.

Western meadowlark at Circle Creek Habitat Reserve, Seaside

Osprey, you are whack,

What you’re sayin’ makes me think you’ve been smokin’ crack.

Don’t get caught up in your words,

Or I’ll make you wish you never messed with this bird.

Osprey chicks in a nest in the Gearhart fen

Meadowlark, you eat bugs and berries and seeds,

Easy to find below the trees,

But ospreys soar through the air and can see prey far away.

You stay on the ground where the silly birds play.

Meadowlark with dinner

It’s true that I eat things I find on the ground

And when fish see you coming, they don’t want you around,

But who wants a big bird obsessed with death,

And who wants a bird with fish on its breath?

And I’ve gotta voice and exquisite plumage

You’ve got a weird chirp that makes you sound like you’re damaged.

Osprey fishing in the Necanicum estuary

You say fish hawks are lame,

but  your lyrics are insane.

Western meadowlark sounds like some sort of game.

Don’t let the legislators be lazy

If they don’t make me the new state bird,

Then they’re all half crazy!





  1. Mike Patterson says:

    The obvious answer is to leave Western Meadowlark as our State Bird (Oregon was the first to adopt it. Other states followed and copied us) and add Osprey as the State Raptor.

    Western Meadowlark is imperiled throughout much of its former range because of development and conversion to industrial scale farming. Some might be tempted to question the motives of someone who wants to de-emphasize a species that depends on habitats also favored by developers and agro-business interests when there are other more egalitarian solutions…

  2. Jeffrey Roehm says:

    I grew up in Seaside right at the east end of the Fourth Avenue bridge. We would fish off of that old bridge and walk across it to the beach. On the west end of the bridge, along the bank of the Necanicum there was a large tidal marsh that extended from First Avenue north past Twelfth Avenue. Every spring meadowlarks nested on the edges of that marsh. We could hear their beautiful song every morning. In 1962 the city of Seaside filled in that marsh and built Necanicum Drive right on top of it. This is my personal reason to keep the meadowlark as our state bird as a reminder that we should work to restore its lost habitat.

  3. Kit Ketcham says:

    I have lived for many years in eastern Oregon and Washington and in the high plains of Colorado where the meadowlark’s song is so clear and true that I could hear through the car’s open window as we prowled the back roads of those states. The meadowlark is a real treasure and I hope we don’t abandon it.

    How about making the osprey our State Raptor?