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Bird Symbols

Birds are among the most popular ecosymbols, or symbols of Nature. They rank with mammals as the most popular animal symbols.

Let’s take a brief tour of birds of state.

National Birds ˆ

Many nations have national birds, ranging from the United States’ bald eagle to Angola’s Zenaida dove.

Unfortunately, I may not have time to work on my national symbols section until later in the year (2022). In the meantime, Wikipedia has a List of National Birds.

U.S. State Birds ˆ

After the 50 United States were swept with state flower fever, birds were next in line.

THE FIRST STATE BIRD WAS ADOPTED BY KENTUCKY IN 1926.
The Big Three
The three most popular state birds.

Today, several states have two official birds. Oklahoma and South Carolina have three! Many of these secondary state birds are designated official game birds, but state raptors appear to be a new fad.

However, birds were popular symbols even before the state symbols craze began. A number of states had nicknames inspired by birds. I learned to appreciate Nebraska’s nickname, Bug-Eating State, while watching nighthawks in action in neighboring South Dakota. What a spectacle!

Bird Nicknames

Birds are also depicted on several state flags. New Mexico’s flag features a bald eagle and golden eagle, representing the United States and Mexico, respectively. Maryland’s state flag and bird, the Baltimore oriole, share similar colors.

Bird Flags
Top right: My state flag proposal for Iowa, the Black Hawk State; Bottom, left to right: Flags of Louisiana and Maryland

Countless more birds reign as county and civic symbols. Birds have similarly inspired many place names, and there are many Audubon chapters that have avian mascots.

More State Bird InformationMore state bird maps and information are available in the #1 state symbols reference, Geobop’s State Symbols.
List of State Birds
State Designation Species
Alabama   yellowhammer [common flicker] (Colaptes auratus) 1927
  Game Bird turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) 1980
Alaska   willow ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus) 1955
Arizona   cactus wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) 1931
Arkansas   mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) 1929
California   California quail (Callipepla californica) 1931
Colorado   lark bunting (Calamospiza melanocorys) 1931
Connecticut   robin (Turdus migratorius) 1943
Delaware   Blue Hen Chicken (Gallus gallus) 1939
District of Columbia   wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina)
Florida   mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) 1927
Georgia   brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) 1935
  Game Bird bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) 1970
Hawaii   nene or Hawaiian goose (Branta sandvicensis) 1988
Idaho   mountain bluebird (Sialia currucoides) 1931
  Raptor peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) 2004
Illinois   cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 1929
Indiana   cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 1933
Iowa   eastern goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) 1933
Kansas   western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) 1937
Kentucky   cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 1926
Louisiana   brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) 1966
Maine Bird chickadee (Poecile) 1927
Maryland Bird Baltimore oriole (Icterus galbula) 1947
Massachusetts Bird black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) 1941
  Game Bird turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) 1991
Michigan Bird robin (Turdus migratorius) 1931
  Bicentennial Bird Kirtland’s warbler (Dendroica palmarum) 1976
Minnesota Bird common loon (Gavia immer) 1961
Mississippi Bird mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) 1944
  Waterfowl wood duck (Aix sponsa) 1974
Missouri Bird eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis) 1927
  Game Bird bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) 2007
Montana Bird western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) 1931
Nebraska Bird western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) 1927
Nevada Bird mountain bluebird (Sialia currucoides) 1967
New Hampshire Bird purple finch (Carpodacus purpureus) 1957
  Raptor red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) 2019
New Jersey Bird eastern goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) 1935
New Mexico Bird roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) 1949
New York Bird eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis) 1970
North Carolina Bird cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 1943
North Dakota Bird western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) 1947
Ohio Bird cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 1933
Oklahoma Bird scissor-tailed flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus) 1951
  Game Bird turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) 1990
  Raptor red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) 2018
Oregon Songbird western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) 1927
  Raptor osprey (Pandion haliaetus) 2017
Pennsylvania Game Bird ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) 1931
Rhode Island Bird Rhode Island Red (Gallus gallus) 1954
South Carolina Bird Carolina wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) 1948
  Bird (former) mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) 1930
  Wild Game Bird turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) 1976
  Duck wood duck (Aix sponsa) 2009
South Dakota Bird ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchichus) 1943
Tennessee Bird mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) 1933
  Game Bird bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) 1988
Texas Bird mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) 1927
Utah Bird California gull (Larus californicus) 1955
  Bird of Prey golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) 2022
Vermont Bird hermit thrush (Catharus guttatus) 1941
Virginia Bird cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 1950
Washington Bird willow goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) 1951
West Virginia Bird cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 1949
Wisconsin Bird robin (Turdus migratorius) 1949
  Symbol of Peace mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) 1971
Wyoming Bird western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) 1927

Canada ˆ

List of Provincial Birds
Province Species Designation
Alberta great horned owl (Bubo virginianus)   1977
British Columbia Steller’s jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)   1987
Manitoba great gray owl (Strix nebulosa)   1987
New Brunswick black capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)   1983
Newfoundland Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)   1991
  partridge, or ptarmigan (Lagopus) Game Bird
Northwest Territories gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus)   1990
Nova Scotia osprey (Pandion haliaetus)   1994
Nunavut rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta)   2000
Ontario common loon (Gavia immer)   1994
Prince Edward Island blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata)   1976
Quebec snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus)   1987
Saskatchewan sharp tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus)   1945
Yukon Territory raven (Corvus corax)   1985

Japan ˆ

List of Prefectural Birds
Prefecture Symbol  
Aichi Japanese scops owl (Otus scops japonicus) 1965
Akita copper pheasant (Syrmaticus soemmerringii) 1972
Aomori Bewick’s swan (Cygnus bewickii)
Chiba meadow bunting, long tailed bunting (Emberiza cioides) 1965
Ehime Japanese robin (Erithacus akahige)
Fukui dusky thrush (Turdus naumanni)
Fukuoka bush warbler (Cettia diphone)
Fukushima Narcissus flycatcher (Ficedula narcissina)
Gifu rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta)
Gunma copper pheasant (Syrmaticus soemmerringii)
Hiroshima red throated loon (Gavia stellata)
Hokkaido Japanese crane (Grus japonensis)
Hyogo white stork, Japanese stork (Ciconia ciconia)
Ibaraki Eurasian skylark (Alauda arvensis) 1965
Ishikawa golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
Iwate green pheasant (Phasianus colchichus)
Kagawa lesser cuckoo, Oriental cuckoo (Cuculus poliocephalus)
Kagoshima Lidth’s jay, purple jay (Garrulus lidthi)
Kanagawa common gull (Larus canus)
Kochi fairy pitta (Pitta nympha)
Kumamoto Eurasian skylark (Alauda arvensis) 1966
Kyoto streaked shearwater (Calonectris leucomelas)
Mie snowy plover, white plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Miyagi (white fronted?) goose (Anser albifrons) 1965
Miyazaki Ijima copper pheasant (Syrmaticus soemmerringii ijimae)
Nagano rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta) 1961
Nagasaki mandarin duck (Aix galericulata)
Nara Japanese robin (Erithacus akahige)
Niigata crested ibis (Nipponia nippon) 1965
Oita Japanese white eye (Zosterops japonicus)
Okayama lesser cuckoo, Oriental cuckoo (Cuculus poliocephalus)
Okinawa Okinawa woodpecker (Sapheopipo noguchii)
Osaka bull headed shrike (Lanius bucephalus)
Saga Eurasian magpie (Pica pica)
Saitama Eurasian collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Shiga little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Shimane whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus)
Shizuoka Asian paradise flycatcher (Terpsiphone atrocaudata)
Tochigi blue and white flycatcher (Cyanoptila cyanomelana)
Tokushima great white egret, white heron (Ardea alba) 1966
Tokyo black headed gull (Larus ridibundus)
Tottori mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) 1964
Toyama rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta)
Wakayama Japanese white eye (Zosterops japonicus)
Yamagata mandarin duck (Aix galericulata)
Yamaguchi hooded, white headed or Nabe crane (Grus monacha)
Yamanashi bush warbler (Cettia diphone)

Other Birds of State ˆ

Information about more avian symbols will be added to this site as I find time.

Of course, there are countless avian symbols beyond symbols of state that are beyond the scope of this site. A universal favorite is the dove of peace, while owls are commonly regarded as symbols of wisdom.

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