US State Birds

Seven states have designated the northern cardinal as their state bird.
Seven states have designated the northern cardinal as their state bird.

Different birds have been officially selected by different state legislatures to be a state symbol. The practice of choosing a bird as a state emblem started in 1927 with Texas and Maine being among the first to pick a bird. The birds chosen are not unique to one particular state with multiple states sharing the same bird symbol. The most famous bird is the northern cardinal which was selected by seven states. Mississippi is unique in that it has picked the wood duck as its official waterfowl alongside the northern mockingbird as the official bird.

US State Birds

The Northern Cardinal

One of the most common state bird in the US is the northern cardinal with a habitat range that cuts across most of the Eastern US. The northern cardinal is easy to spot due to its unique crest. Female northern cardinals have a grey crest while the males have black. It mainly feeds on grains and fruits and insects on occasion. Keeping the bird as a pet is illegal in all 50 states of the US. The northern cardinal is a popular choice for team mascot with over ten teams both professional and college level using it as a mascot. In 1929, Illinois became the first of seven states to choose the northern cardinal as its official emblem while the final state to select it was Virginia in 1950. Other states that use the bird as their official emblem include Indiana, West Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, and Kentucky.

The Northern Mockingbird

The northern mockingbird is the most widespread species of mockingbirds in the US. The bird's habitat extends from the southern part of the US to the central regions. It is closely related to the endangered Socorro mockingbird. The most distinct feature of the bird is its intelligence as it has proven that it can identify individual people. It has a varied diet consisting of fruits and insects. The bird is extremely popular as it appears in paintings, the titles of books and songs, as well as being chosen as the official bird of five states. Texas and Florida were the first states to choose the bird as their official emblem in 1927. Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee have also chosen to use it as their official emblem. The norther mockingbird was also the state bird of South Carolina from 1939-1948, however, in 1948, South Carolina designed the Carolina wren as the state bird.

The Western Meadowlark

The western meadowlark is a bird common in the western and central parts of the US. The diet mainly consists of insects, berries, and seeds they acquire by foraging. Western meadowlarks have a flute-like song which is one of the easiest calls to identify in the animal kingdom. Six states have chosen to use the western meadowlark as their official bird with Wyoming and Oregon being the first in 1927, followed by North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Montana.

State Game Birds

In addition to having official state birds, some states have chosen to have official game birds. Most states have chosen a game bird since they do not allow hunting of their official birds except California, Alaska, and South Dakota. Wild turkeys and bobwhite quails are the most popular game birds with each being selected in three states.

US State Birds

RankState/TerritoryState BirdScientific NameYear
1Alabama (state bird)YellowhammerColaptes auratus1927
2Alabama (state game bird)Wild turkeyMeleagris gallopavo1980
3AlaskaWillow ptarmiganLagopus lagopus1955
4ArizonaCactus wrenCampylorhynchus brunneicapillus1973
5ArkansasNorthern mockingbirdMimus polyglottos1929
6CaliforniaCalifornia quailCallipepla californica1931
7ColoradoLark buntingCalamospiza melanocorys1931
8ConnecticutAmerican robinTurdus migratorius1943
9DelawareDelaware Blue HenGallus gallus1939
10District of ColumbiaWood thrushHylocichla mustelina1938
11FloridaNorthern mockingbirdMimus polyglottos1927
12Georgia (state bird)Brown thrasher Toxostoma rufum1928
13Georgia (state game bird)Bobwhite quailColinus virginianus1970
14GuamGuam railGallirallus owstoni
15HawaiiNēnē or Hawaiian gooseBranta sandvicensis1957
16IdahoMountain bluebirdSialia currucoides1931
17IllinoisNorthern cardinalCardinalis cardinalis1929
18IndianaNorthern cardinalCardinalis cardinalis1933
19IowaEastern goldfinchSpinus tristis1933
20KansasWestern meadowlarkSturnella neglecta1933
21KentuckyNorthern cardinalCardinalis cardinalis1942
22LouisianaBrown pelicanPelecanus occidentalis1966
23MaineBlack-capped chickadeePoecile atricapilla1927
24MarylandBaltimore orioleIcterus galbula1947
25Massachusetts (state bird)Black-capped chickadee Poecile atricapilla1941
26Massachusetts (state game bird)Wild turkeyMeleagris gallopavo1991
27MichiganAmerican robinTurdus migratorius1931
28MinnesotaCommon loonGavia immer1961
29Mississippi (state bird)Northern mockingbirdMimus polyglottos1944
30Mississippi (state waterfowl)Wood duckAix sponsa1974
31Missouri (state bird)Eastern bluebirdSialia sialis1927
32Missouri (state game bird)Bobwhite quail Colinus virginianus2007
33MontanaWestern meadowlarkSturnella neglecta1941
34NebraskaWestern meadowlarkSturnella neglecta1929
35NevadaMountain bluebirdSialia currucoides1967
36New HampshirePurple finchCarpodacus purpureus1957
37New JerseyEastern goldfinchSpinus tristis1935
38New MexicoRoadrunnerGeococcyx californianus1949
39New YorkEastern bluebirdSialia sialis1970
40North CarolinaNorthern cardinalCardinalis cardinalis1943
41North DakotaWestern meadowlarkSturnella neglecta1970
42Northern Mariana IslandsMariana fruit-dovePtilinopus roseicapilla
43OhioNorthern cardinalCardinalis cardinalis1933
44Oklahoma (state bird)Scissor-tailed flycatcherTyrannus forficatus1951
45Oklahoma (state game bird)Wild turkeyMeleagris gallopavo1990
46OregonWestern meadowlarkSturnella neglecta1927
47Pennsylvania (state game bird)Ruffed grouse Bonasa umbellus1931
48Puerto RicoPuerto Rican spindalisSpindalis portoricensis
49Rhode IslandRhode Island RedGallus gallus1954
50South Carolina (former state bird)Northern mockingbirdMimus polyglottos1939-1948
51South Carolina (state bird)Carolina wrenThryothorus ludovicianus1948
52South Carolina (state game bird)Wild turkeyMeleagris gallopavo1976
53South DakotaRing-necked pheasantPhasianus colchicus1943
54Tennessee (state bird)Northern mockingbirdMimus polyglottos1933
55Tennessee (state game bird)Bobwhite quailColinus virginianus1987
56TexasNorthern mockingbirdMimus polyglottos1927
57U.S. Virgin IslandsBananaquitCoereba flaveola1970
58UtahCalifornia gullLarus californicus1955
59VermontHermit thrushCatharus guttatus1941
60VirginiaNorthern cardinalCardinalis cardinalis1950
61WashingtonWillow goldfinchSpinus tristis1951
62West VirginiaNorthern cardinalCardinalis cardinalis1949
63WisconsinAmerican robinTurdus migratorius1949
64WyomingWestern meadowlarkSturnella neglecta1927

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