Official State Birds

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State Birds of the US

This factoid is accompanied by the State Birds of the United States poster by Judy Jones.

Symbols, such as the official state designation of a bird, demonstrate our respect for and recognition of the diversity of our physical universe. How ironic then, that a number of these select birds have, despite their designation, become extinct or ended up on an endangered animal or species lists.

The study of a state bird designation can also provide an interesting historical perspective as to events taking place during that period of a State's history. Birds are among the most popular symbols in the United States and Canada. Every state and Canadian province and territory has an official bird. Some states even have two official birds.

Here are some factoids on some popular, or otherwise interesting, state birds:

  • Hermit Thrush (Vermont)
    A very shy, somewhat nondescript little bird. The Hermit Thrush was chosen by the state of Vermont because of its exquisite flute-like song; a trait, which also resulted in it being likewise, dubbed America's "Nightingale".
  • Northern Cardinal (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia)
    A strikingly beautiful bird with its bright red body and crested head. It is also unusual in that cardinals mate for life, returning year after year to the same place with the same mate. The Northern Cardinal is claimed by seven states as their state bird - the most of any of the state birds.
  • Baltimore Oriole (Maryland)
    The Baltimore Oriole was named for Lord Baltimore, the founder of Maryland, because the bird, like the Lord, wore orange and black colors. The bird also makes a very interesting nest, which is a pouch that hangs from several branches.
  • Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher (Oklahoma)
    The Flycatcher's exceptionally long tail - often nine inches on the adult male - often causes people to refer to this beautiful, elegant bird as the "bird of paradise". While flying, it opens and closes this tail like a pair of scissors. During the males courting dance, he is also known to climb to about a hundred feet and dive down a fourth of the way, zigzagging back up into the sky, and then plummeting down again. A truly exceptional display.
  • Northern Mockingbird (Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas)
    This bird's scientific name, Mimus polyglottos, means, "mimic of many tongues." The Mockingbird can not only mimic more than 30 other songbirds, but also the sounds of barking dogs, chirping crickets and even squeaky hinges.
  • Brown Thrasher (Georgia)
    The Thrasher is extremely flexible due to the fact that it has more vertebrae in its neck than a giraffe! It can preen its feathers on the back of its neck, and even under its throat.
  • California Gull (Utah)
    Gratitude was most likely responsible for the California Gull's designation by Utah. It seems that in the summer of 1848 a flock of California Gulls devoured a swarm of crickets that were threatening to destroy the settlers' crops.
  • Blue Hen Chicken (Delaware)
    Poultry, especially chicken, has long been an important social and economic symbol of well being of the State of Delaware. The Delaware Blue Hen is not a recognized breed or strain of chicken, however. The term evolved through a historical account and refers to fighting gamecocks that gained fame during the Revolutionary War. Some reports have also held that a regiment of the militia may have similarly dubbed the Blue Hens "Chickens" when they gained a reputation for their ferocity and success in battle.

Offical State Bird Table

Alabama - Yellowhammer Alaska - Willow Ptarmigan
Arizona - Cactus Wren Arkansas - Mockingbird
California - California Quail Colorado - Lark Bunting
Connecticut - American Robin Delaware - Blue Hen Chicken
Florida - Mockingbird Georgia - Brown Thresher
Hawaii - Hawaiian Goose Idaho - Mountain Bluebird
Illinois - Cardinal Indiana - Cardinal
Iowa - American Goldfinch Kansas - Western Meadowlark
Kentucky - Cardinal Louisiana - Brown Pelican
Maine - Black-Capped Chickadee Maryland - Baltimore Oriole
Massachusetts - Black-Capped Chickadee Michigan - American Robin
Minnesota - Common Loon Mississippi - Mockingbird
Missouri - Eastern Bluebird Montana - Western Meadowlark
Nebraska - Western Meadowlark Nevada - Mountain Bluebird
New Hampshire - Purple Finch New Jersey - American Goldfinch
New Mexico - Roadrunner New York - Eastern Bluebird
North Carolina - Cardinal North Dakota - Western Meadowlark
Ohio - Cardinal Oklahoma - Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher
Oregon - Western Meadowlark Pennsylvania - Ruffed Grouse
Rhode Island - Rhode Island Red South Carolina - Carolina Wren
South Dakota - Ring-Necked Pheasant Tennessee - Mockingbird
Texas - Mockingbird Utah - California Gull
Vermont - Hermit Thrush Virginia - Cardinal
West Virginia - Cardinal Washington - American Goldfinch
Wisconsin - American Robin Wyoming - Western Meadowlark

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  • Robert Donahue
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