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Alabama
State Bird: Yellowhammer (Northern Flicker)

Scientific Name: Colaptes auratus

Date Adopted by the State: September 6, 1927

This bird, whose correct name is the Northern Flicker, is member of the woodpecker family. It got its colloquial name from the way it hammers at trees with its beak and the flash of yellow it displays on the underside of its wings.

This bird’s colors of gray and yellow were said to resemble the uniform of Confederate cavalryman during the Civil War. One Confederate Army regiment from Alabama wore yellowhammer feathers in their hats.

 

Alaska
State Bird: Willow Ptarmigan

Scientific Name: Lagopus lagopus

Date Adopted by State: 1955

 

Arizona
State Bird: Cactus Wren

Scientific Name: Campylorpynchus brunnicicapillum

Date Adopted by State: March 16, 1931

The Cactus Wren is the largest wren in Arizona, measuring 7 to 8 inches in length.

 

Arkansas
State Bird: Northern Mockingbird

Scientific Name: Mimus polyglottus

Date Adopted by State: 1929, by the Forty-seventh General Assembly.

 

California
State Bird: California Valley Quail

Scientific Name: Callipepla californica

Date Adopted by State: 1931

The California quail is also known as the valley quail. It is widely distributed throughout the state and is a prized game bird, known for its hardiness and adaptability

 

Colorado
State Bird: Lark Bunting

Scientific Name: Calamospiza melancorys

Date Adopted by State: April 29, 1931

 

Connecticut
State Bird: American Robin

Scientific Name: Turdus migratorius

Date Adopted by State: 1943

 

Delaware
State Bird: Blue Hen Chicken

Scientific Name: Gallus gallus

Date Adopted by State: April 14, 1939.

During the Revolutionary War, soldiers recruited from Kent County brought game chickens with them that were supposedly descendants of a famous Blue Hen. Between battles, the soldiers used their Blue Hen chickens in cockfights, as they were noted for their vicious fighting ability.

The Blue Hen has long been used as a theme in political campaigns and state publications.

 

Florida
State Bird: Northern Mockingbird

Scientific Name: Mimus polyglottos

Date Adopted by State: 1927, through the Senate Concurrent Resolution No.3 of that year’s  legislative session.

 

Georgia
State Bird: Brown Thrasher

Scientific Name: Toxostoma rufum

Date Adopted by State: April 6, 1935; also 1970 (see below).

The Brown Thrasher was chosen as the state bird by official proclamation of the Governor. At the request of the Garden Clubs of Georgia, it was designated by the Legislature as the official state bird in 1970.

 

Hawaii
State Bird: Nene

Scientific Name: Branta sandwicensis

Date Adopted by State: May 7, 1957.

The Nene (pronounced “nay-nay”) is a goose which has become adapted to life in the harsh lava country of Hawaii by transforming its webbed feet into a claw-like shape. This species was almost driven to extinction by hunting during its breeding season and predation until they were protected by law and a restoration project established in 1949.

 

Idaho
State Bird: Mountain Bluebird

Scientific Name: Sialia currucoides

Date Adopted by State: February 28, 1931.

 

Illinois
State Bird: Cardinal

Scientific Name: Cardinalis cardinalis

Date Adopted by State: 1929

In 1928, the National Federation of Professional Women’s Clubs started a program to have  Illinois schoolchildren select a State Bird. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction approved of the idea and subsequently, schoolchildren from across the state voted for a bird from a list of five birds commonly seen in Illinois: bluebird, cardinal, meadowlark, quail and oriole.

After receiving 39,226 votes, the Cardinal was chosen as the state bird, making Illinois the first of seven states which eventually choose the cardinal as its state bird (the other states being Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia).

 

Indiana
State Bird: Cardinal

Scientific Name: Cardinalis cardinalis

Date Adopted by State: 1933

 

Iowa
State Bird: Eastern Goldfinch

Scientific Name: Carduelis tristis

Date Adopted by State: 1933

The Eastern Goldfinch, which is also known as the Wild Canary, was chosen as the official state bird because it is a common species throughout Iowa and it often overwinters in the state.

 

Kansas
State Bird: Western Meadowlark

Scientific Name: Sturnella neglecta

Date Adopted by State: 1937.

The Kansas Audubon Society coordinated a vote by over 121,000 school children to chose a state bird. The Bobwhite was the second most popular choice, while third place went to the Cardinal. The Western Meadowlark won first place with 43,895 votes.

 

Kentucky
State Bird: Cardinal

Scientific Name: Cardinalis cardinalis

Date Adopted by State: 1926.

The Cardinal became the official bird of the Commonwealth of Kentucky during the legislative session in 1926.

 

Louisiana
State Bird: Eastern Brown Pelican

Scientific Name: Pelecanus occidentalis

Date Adopted by State: July 27, 1966.

Louisiana is known as the “Pelican State”; this bird is featured on both the state flag and state seal. The Pelican has been a symbol of Louisiana ever since the arrival of European settlers over 300 years ago.

 

Maine
State Bird: Black-capped Chickadee

Scientific Name: Poecile atricapillus

Date Adopted by State: April 6, 1927.

The Blacked-capped Chickadee became the state bird after a campaign by the Maine State Federation of Women’s Clubs. The chickadee is a common bird in Maine, found in most backyards.

 

Maryland
State Bird: Baltimore Oriole

Scientific Name: Icterus galbula

Date Adopted by State: 1947.

In 1698, the so-called “Baltemore Birds” were sent from Maryland to the British Royal Gardens  as one of their many “Beasts of Curiosity”. Baltimore’s major league baseball team was named the Baltimore Orioles in 1894.

 

Massachusetts
State Bird: Black-capped Chickadee

Scientific Name: Poecile atricapillus

Date Adopted by State: March 21, 1941.

 

Michigan
State Bird: American Robin

Scientific Name: Turdus migratorius

Date Adopted by State: 1931.

In 1931, the Michigan Audubon Society sponsored a contest to choose a state bird. After the vote (in which 200,00 ballots were cast) favored the Robin, the Michigan legislature made it the official state bird through House Concurrent Resolution 30 of 1931.

 

Minnesota
State Bird: Common Loon

Scientific Name: Gavia immer

Date Adopted by State: 1961

Other species which were previously proposed (and the year of proposal) but not adopted as the state bird included:

  • Eastern goldfinch (1947)
  • Loon (1951)
  • Mourning Dove (1951)
  • Pileated Woodpecker (1951)
  • Scarlet Tanager (1951)
  • Wood Duck (1951)

The name “loon” comes from a Norwegian word that means “wild, sad cry.”

 

Mississippi
State Bird: Northern Mockingbird

Scientific Name: Mimus polyglottos

Date Adopted by State: February 23, 1944.

A state-wide campaign to adopt the Northern Mockingbird as the state bird was undertaken by the Women’s Federated Clubs of Mississippi. Subsequently, a bill designating the Mockingbird as Mississippi’s official state bird passed the House 121-0, the Senate 38-0.

 

Missouri
State Bird: Bluebird

Scientific Name: Sialia sialis

Date Adopted by State: March 30, 1927.

The Bluebird is a commonly seen bird in Missouri from early spring until late November.

 

Montana
State Bird: Western Meadowlark

Scientific Name: Sturnella neglecta

Date Adopted by State: 1931

On June 22, 1805, Meriwether Lewis (of the Lewis and Clark Expedition) noted in his journal the appearance of a Meadowlark; a “lark with a yellow breast and black spot on the throat”.

When asked to vote for a state bird, school children voted overwhelmingly in 1930 for the Meadowlark. Legislators agreed and during the next session, added this species as the official state bird of Big Sky Country.

 

Nebraska
State Bird: Western Meadowlark

Scientific Name: Sturnella neglecta

Date Adopted by State: March 22, 1929.

In 1928, the Nebraska Federation of Women’s Clubs (NFWC) endorsed a suggestion from the government to adopt a state bird and proposed that the bird be a species typical of the prairies, abundant throughout the state and chosen by a vote of school children. This was proposed as a convention resolution and adopted by the NFWC, who then proposed a list of potential birds. The five birds which received the highest vote count included the Western Meadowlark, Robin, Bobwhite, Brown Thrasher and House Wren. A state congressman (F.C. Rundle) introduced a concurrent resolution to declare the Western Meadowlark as the state bird, which passed in 1929

 

Nevada
State Bird: Mountain Bluebird

Scientific Name: Sialia currucoides

Date Adopted by State: 1967.

During the 1967 legislature session, a Clark County Assemblyman introduced a bill to designate the Mountain Bluebird as the official state bird. The bill passed both houses and was signed by the governor on April 4th, 1967.
New Hampshire
State Bird: Purple Finch

Scientific Name: Carpodacus purpureus

Date Adopted by State: April 25, 1957.

The Purple Finch was designated as the official state bird of New Hampshire by vote of the 1957 Legislature, but only after a protracted fight between two Congressmen.

Rep. Robert S. Monahan of Hanover sponsored a bill in favor of the Purple Finch bill while Rep. Doris M. Spollett of Hampstead sponsored the New Hampshire Hen for a state bird. She had previously lost an attempt to have this special breed of Hen become the official bird eight years earlier, while she serving in the Senate.

Rep. Monahan’s bill had impressive backing, with support from the Audubon Society of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Federation of Garden Clubs, and the State Federation of Women’s Clubs.
Because of the influence of the much-respected sponsoring organizations, the House passed the Purple Finch bill, as did the Senate, and the Governor signed the Purple Finch into law on April 25.

 

New Jersey
State Bird: Eastern Goldfinch

Scientific Name: Carduelis tristis

Date Adopted by State: June 27, 1935.

The Eastern Goldfinch was chosen as the official New Jersey state bird by Senate, No . 241. No information was presented I the official state records (the original bill or legislative journals) as to why this species was chosen.

 

New Mexico
State Bird: Greater Roadrunner

Scientific Name: Geococcyx californianus

Date Adopted by State: March 16, 1949.

 

New York
State Bird: Bluebird

Scientific Name: Sialia sialis

Date Adopted by State: 1970.

 

North Carolina
State Bird: Cardinal

Scientific Name: Cardinalis cardinalis

Date Adopted by State: March 4, 1943.

The Cardinal was apparently selected by popular choice as the state bird although little information is known as to how that determination was reached.

 

North Dakota
State Bird: Western Meadowlark

Scientific Name: Sturnella neglecta

Date Adopted by State:

 

Ohio
State Bird: Cardinal

Scientific Name: Cardinalis cardinalis

Date Adopted by State: 1933.

 

Oklahoma
State Bird: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scientific Name: Muscivora forficata

Date Adopted by State: May 26, 1951.

This species was chosen as the state bird after widespread support from school children, garden clubs and the state Audubon Society chapters. It is interesting that none of the other seven states in which this species nests have named it as their state bird.

According to the House Joint Resolution (No. 21) which designated the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher as the state bird, this species has great economic value as an insect controller, has a “striking and beautiful appearance”, and was endorsed by “many ornithologists and biologists of the various colleges and universities of the State of Oklahoma, by societies devoted to the study and preservation of wildlife, and by authors nationally know for their contribution to the study of birds”

 

Oregon
State Bird: Western Meadowlark

Scientific Name: Sturnella neglecta

Date Adopted by State: 1927.

The Western Meadowlark was chosen as the official state bird by a poll of Oregon’s school children which was sponsored by the Oregon Audubon Society.

 

Pennsylvania
State Bird: Ruffed Grouse

Scientific Name: Bonasa umbellus

Date Adopted by State: June 22, 1931.

There is little known about why this species was chosen as the state bird other than it was championed by the Pennsylvania Federation of Women’s Clubs.

 

Rhode Island
State Bird: Rhode Island Red

Scientific Name: Gallus gallus

Date Adopted by State: May 3, 1954.

The campaign to have the a state bird named for Rhode Island was launched in 1931 by the State Federation Division of Conservation and Natural Resources, and sponsored by the State Federation of Women’s Clubs and the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. Six candidate birds in total were put forward: the Bobwhite, Flicker, Tree Swallow, Song Sparrow, Grey Catbird and the Osprey. The Bobwhite won the vote and the Osprey came in second place.

Two separate bills were submitted to the State Legislature, one naming the Bobwhite as state bird, the other naming the Osprey. Neither bill was passed.

A new vote in 1954 for state bird was sponsored by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Federation of Garden Clubs, and the Providence Journal Company. This time there were five candidates: the Bobwhite, Osprey, Towhee, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and the Rhode Island Red chicken. (The American Robin and Black-capped Chickadee were also considered, but rejected because they had already been adopted as state birds by other states).

This new vote was won by the Rhode Island Red, and a bill naming it as state bird was introduced to the State House, backed by both farmers’ groups and the American Legion. Despite this, the Rhode Island Federation of Garden Clubs submitted a different bill naming the Ruby-throated Hummingbird as the state bird.

The Governor of Rhode Island sided with the popular vote and named the Rhode Island Red chicken as the official state bird.

 

South Carolina
State Bird: Carolina

Scientific Name: Thryothorus ludovicianus

Date Adopted by State: 1939/1948.

In a state campaign in 1930, led by the South Carolina State Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Carolina Wren beat out the Mourning Dove (or the Carolina Dove as it was then known) to be the official state bird. From then until 1939, the designation was unofficial, at which time the State General Assembly passed Act No. 311 which designated the Mockingbird as the state bird. That was repealed by Act No. 693 in 1948, which made the Carolina Wren the official state bird.

 

South Dakota
State Bird: Ring-necked Pheasant

Scientific Name: Phasianus culchicus

Date Adopted by State: February 13, 1943.

The Ring-necked Pheasant was introduced to South Dakota in 1898.

 

Tennessee
State Bird: Northern Mockingbird

Scientific Name: Mimus polyglottos

Date Adopted by State: April 11, 1933.

According to newspaper reports in the Nashville Banner, the Northern Mockingbird was selected as the state bird of Tennessee in an election conducted by the Tennessee Ornithological Society.

 

Texas
State Bird: Northern Mockingbird

Scientific Name: Mimus polyglottos

Date Adopted by State: 1927.

The Northern Mockingbird was adopted as the state bird by the Texas Legislature at the request of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Ask any Texan, and you will no doubt learn that the mockingbird has the prettiest song of any bird native to North America. That’s perhaps the chief reason the “mocker” was adopted as the state bird of Texas in 1927. There is some speculation that Texas chose the Mockingbird because it “a fighter for the protection of his home, falling, if need be, in its defense, like any true Texan…”.

 

Utah
State Bird: American Gull (California Gull)

Scientific Name: Larus californicous

Date Adopted by State: February 14, 1955.

The California Gull was protected under Utah law because it is an insectivorous bird (i.e., it feeds on insects). It was chosen as the state bird because it was credited with saving the pioneer’s crops from complete destruction in the summer of 1848. Other protect bird species include Larks, Whippoorwill, Thrush, Swallow and any other insectivorous birds.

 

Vermont
State Bird: Hermit Thrush

Scientific Name: Catharus guttatus

Date Adopted by State: June 1, 1941.

The Hermit Thrush was selected to represent Vermont (over the Blue Jay and Crow) because it has a distinctive song and is found in all of Vermont’s 14 counties.

 

Virginia
State Bird: Cardinal

Scientific Name: Cardinalis cardinalis

Date Adopted by State: January 25, 1950.

The General Assembly of Virginia selected the Northern Cardinal as the state bird because of its bright plumage and cheerful song.

 

Washington
State Bird: Willow Goldfinch (Wild Canary)

Scientific Name: Carduelis tristis

Date Adopted by State: 1951.

The goldfinch is a delicate little bird with a yellow body and black wings, and although it eventually became the official state bird, many other birds were considered for the title. In 1928,

State legislators decided in 1928 to let school children select a state bird and the Meadowlark won the vote easily. However, by that time seven other states had already chosen the same species as their state bird. So, another vote, sponsored by the Washington Federation of Women’s Clubs, was held in 1931. Many birds were nominated for the vote, including the Tanager, Song Sparrow, Junco and Pileated Woodpecker. But the Willow Goldfinch easily won the contest.

The problem was that there were now two different state birds, so the state legislature once again let school children make the final choice. In 1951, the children chose the Willow Goldfinch.

 

Washington, D.C.
State Bird: Wood Thrush

Scientific Name: Hylocichla mustellina

Date Adopted by State: ?

 

West Virginia
State Bird: Cardinal

Scientific Name: Cardinalis cardinalis

Date Adopted by State: 1949.

 

Wisconsin
State Bird: American Robin

Scientific Name: Turdus migratorius

Date Adopted by State: June 4, 1949.

School children in Wisconsin voted during the 1927-27 school year for a state bird. The American Robin received twice as many votes as any other bird.

 

Wyoming

State Bird: Western Meadowlark

Scientific Name: Sturnella Neglecta

Date Adopted by State: February 5, 1927.

 

United States of America
National Bird: Bald Eagle

Scientific Name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Date Adopted by Nation: 1782

The Founding Fathers of the of America wanted to choose a national emblem that was unique to the United States. Congress debated for six years, finally settling on the Bald Eagle. It was said they chose this bird because it symbolized strength, freedom and courage, and that it would look much better as the national symbol than the other proposed species, the Wild Turkey.

The term ‘bald’ in its name does not mean that the bird has a bald head. In fact, it’s head is covered with beautiful white feathers. The term comes from the word piebald, which is an older  word meaning “marked with white.”

Today, the image of the Bald Eagle can be found in many places in the U.S.A, such as on the one dollar bill, the Great Seal, several Federal agency seals, and the President’s flag.

As President John F. Kennedy once said, “The Founding Fathers made an appropriate choice when they selected the bald eagle as the emblem of the nation.  The fierce beauty and proud independence of this great bird aptly symbolizes the strength and freedom of America.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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