The cardinal might be our state bird and the mascot of an annoying midwestern fanbase, but it's not the most common bird seen in Illinois. 

At least that's what this study says. I'm well documented in being very wary of any infographic that has different color-coded states. It is seemingly the best way to get someone to click on your article so the methodology of some of these "maps" should always be scrutinized.

Let's take a look at this one.

This is from the website gardensalive.com and was sent to my work email from someone who works for something called Go Fish Digital. I and everyone else that works in anything close to the "media" gets these all the time. It's how they eventually end up on your Facebook feed. It's all a machine folks, built to harvest eyeballs and clicks.

Here is their "methodology" according to the article:

We used the latest data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey to find out which bird was seen most often in each state in 2019. Then, we determined which states are best for birding based on the number of birds seen per capita in 2019. We also looked at fluctuations in the total number of individual birds sighted over the past 10 years to form a historical perspective on birding.

No links were provided for the "latest data" so technically it could be just the author of the article calling up friends from different states.

So according to Gardens Alive, the cardinal isn't the most sighted bird in Illinois. So what is it? The robin? See a ton of those. Nope? Must be those little starlings or wrens. Nope, not those either. It's the red-winged blackbird? Ok. Whatever you say Gardens Alive.

The Northern Cardinal does make a few appearances on the map, however. According to Gardens Alive, the Northern Cardinal is most popular in the southern states of Mississippi, Alabama (Roll Tide), Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida.

None of this makes sense but thankfully there's at least no physical data to back any of it up.

Careful of infographics guys. It's all about the clicks.

Also, thanks for clicking on this.

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