An osprey flies with a fish in its grasp. The bird of prey may become Oregon's new state bird.

An osprey flies with a fish in its grasp. The bird of prey may become Oregon’s new state bird.

George Gentry/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Flickr

The osprey is one step closer to becoming Oregon’s official state bird.

The state Senate voted Thursday on a resolution that would give the designation to the bird of prey often seen along Oregon waterways. 

The western meadowlark became Oregon’s state bird in 1927 thanks to a proclamation from Gov. I. L. Patterson. The designation came after input from schoolchildren, who voted in a poll sponsored by the Oregon Audubon Society.

Sen. Fred Girod, R-Stayton, introduced the resolution to replace the meadowlark with the osprey. Girod said it’s not just that the osprey is bigger and more powerful than the meadowlark.

“The major problem with the meadowlark is that it’s the state bird for five other states. That’s just not the Oregon way,” he said. 

But the proposal ruffled the feathers of meadowlark fans.

Democratic Sen. Betsy Johnson of Scappoose called the western meadowlark “a gentle creature” and urged her colleagues to vote against the proposal to replace it with the osprey.

“Don’t validate the caprice of possibly well-intended individuals who wish to replace this gentle presence with a fierce predator and an instinctual killer who visits death on fish from above,” Johnson said.

Despite Johnson’s plea, the resolution passed 24-5. It now heads to the Oregon House.