A person from Florida was called a “fly-up-the-creek” in the 19th century. This was originally a name for the green heron that can be found in the state. “Florida, Fly up the Creeks” was cited in a state nickname list in 1845, but the term was seldom cited in print and was rare after 1900.
A modern Florida nickname is the “Sunshine State,” although “Sunshine Stater” is only infrequently used to described residents.
Wikipedia: Green heron
The green heron (Butorides virescens) is a small heron of North and Central America. It was long considered conspecific with its sister species the striated heron (Butorides striata), and together they were called “green-backed heron”. Birds of the nominate subspecies (no matter which taxonomic arrangement is preferred) are extremely rare vagrants to western Europe; individuals from the Pacific coast of North America may similarly stray as far as Hawaii.
1: green heron
2 chiefly South & Midland : a flighty person
3 usually capitalized F&C : floridian —used as a nickname
American Ornithology: Or, The Natural History of the Birds of the United States
By Alexander Wilson
New York, NY: Published by Collins & Co.
Fly-up-the-creek (Green Heron—ed.)
April 1845, Cincinnati Miscellany (Cincinnati, OH), pg. 240, col. 1:
Florida, Fly up the Creeks.
23 August 1845, Ripley (MS) Advertiser, pg. 1, cols. 4-5:
NATIONAL NICKNAMES.—It will be seen by the following from an exchange paper that the people of every state have nicknames, and some very curious and ludicrous ones:
The inhabitants of Maine, are called Foxes; New Hampshire, Granite Boys; Massachusetts, Bay Staters; Vermont, Green Mountain Boys; Rhode Island, Gun Flints; Connecticut, Wooden Nutmegs; New York, Knickerbockers; New Jersey, Clamcatchers; Pennsylvania, Leatherheads; Delaware, Muskrats; Maryland, Craw-Thumpers; Virginia, Beagles; North Carolina, Weasels; Georgia, Buzzards; Louisiana, Creowls; Alabama, Lizzards; Kentucky, Corn crackers; Tennessee, Cottonmanics; Ohio, Buckeyes; Indiana, Hoosiers; Illinois, Suckers; Missouri, Pewks; Mississippi, Tadpoles; Arkansas, Gophers; Michigan, Wolverines; Florida, Fly-up-the-Creeks; Wisconsin, Badgers; Iowa, Hawkeyes; N. W. Territory, Prairie Dogs; Oregon, Hard Cases.
4 July 1860, The Spirit of Democracy (Woodsfield, OH), “National Nicknames,” pg. 1, col. 7:
The inhabitants of Maine are called Foxes; New Hampshire, Granite Boys; Massachusetts, Bay Staters; Vermont, Green Mountain Boys; Rhode Island, Gun Flints; Connecticut, Wooden Nutmegs; New York, Knickerbockers; New Jersey, Clam Catchers; Pennsylvania, Leather Heads; Delaware, Muskrats; Maryland, Claw Thumpers; Virginia, Beagles; North Carolina, Tar Boilers; South Carolina, Weasels; Georgia, Buzzards; Louisiana, Creowls; Alabama, Lizards; Kentucky, Corn Crackers; Ohio, Buckeyes; Michigan, Wolverines; Indiana, Hoosiers; illinois, Suckers; Missouri, Pukes: Mississippi, Tad-Poles; Florida, Fly up the Creeks; Wisconsin, Badgers; Iowa, Hawkeyes; Oregon, Hard Cases.
25 July 1864, Indianapolis (IN) Daily Journal, “National Nick-Names,” pg. 4, col. 2:
June 1865, The Wisconsin Journal of Education, pg. 328:
The following are the “nicknames” of the native inhabitants of the different States:
... Florida, Fly-up-the-creeks; ...
Camping and Cruising in Florida
By James Alexander Henshall
Cincinnati, OH: Robert Clarke & Co.
Frank brought me one day a bird for- identification, which he called a “fly-up-the-creek.”
“No,” said I; “it is. a small, green heron, called by the crackers a ‘ poor-Joe,’ though why poor and why Joe, I can’t tell you.”
An Index to the United States of America
Compiled by Malcolm Townsend
Boston, MA: D. Lothrop Company
NICKNAMES APPLIED TO THE PEOPLE OF THE STATES.
Florida...Fly-up-the-Creeks...Local application to one of the crane family [Butorides virescens], Green Heron, found on the marsh shores.
3 June 1896, The Morning Herald (Lexington, KY), “The Nicknames of Twenty-Eight States of the Union,” pg. 6, col. 3:
Floridians are called “Fly-up-the-Creeks,” from the presence in abundance of the green heron.
Universal Dictionary of the English Language
By Robert Hunter and Charles Morris
New York, NY: Peter Fenelon Collier, Publisher
Florida. Fly-up-the-creeks (a local application to the Blue Heron).
Orlando (FL) Sentinel
Dear Chris: Here’s Why We’re Flying Up A Creek
February 23, 1990 | By Bob Morris of The Sentinel Staff
Sowaddyawannaknow?: Today’s question (from someone named Chris who left a message on my recorder): ‘’Yeah, I’m sitting here looking at a copy of the 1928 World Almanac, and there is this section on states and the nicknames of the inhabitants. And alongside Florida, it does not call us Crackers, but - get this - Fly-up-the-creeks. What is a Fly-up-the-creek? And how come that’s what us Floridians were known as?’’ Today’s answer: Your question stumped some of the best history authorities in the state, Chris. But the best we could figure out is this: Back during the 1800s, many of the settlers in Florida were runaway slaves or fugitives from justice. Whenever the authorities started asking other people where these folks might be, someone usually answered, ‘’Well, I suppose they just flew up the creek,’’ meaning, of course, that they had vanished. Oh, but that many of the people in Florida nowadays would just fly up the creek.