Each state in America boasts its own culture, history, and natural beauty. To represent such diversity, people from these states have chosen their own set of symbols and customs. Specific flags, songs, mottos, flowers, and even fruits commemorate the uniqueness of individual states. Some of these symbols border on the bizarre: Texas, for example, has made the Dutch Oven its official state cooking pot. Other symbols are more universal, like state birds.
Many people remember learning about their states' history back in elementary school. But can you still remember your state bird? To test your state knowledge, Stacker compiled a list of every official state bird in the United States. As a quick refresher, a state bird is generally indigenous to the region and frequently seen within state boundaries—but it doesn't have to be unique to that state. Case in point: Five states claimed the mockingbird, six claimed the meadowlark, and seven designated the cardinal as their official bird mascot.
Time to test your feathery friend knowledge.
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In 1927, Alabama became one of the first states to adopt an official bird—and has a compelling narrative behind the selection. Civil War soldiers from the state were nicknamed after this bird for the bright cloth on their uniforms coattails, collars, and sleeves.
Northern flicker (Yellowhammer)
This isn’t the kind of bird you’d find in the average American suburb, and it’s got a name that's equally as rare. The feathery creature is native to the arctic tundra and is the only bird in its group in which males helps out with parental care.
Willow ptarmigan (red grouse)
Much like its namesake, this bird doesn’t need to drink freestanding water—it gets most of its hydration from the food it eats. That’s why you’ll find this fearless bird hopping around the dusty desert, letting out its raw, scratchy call.
If you’ve ever woken to the sound of birds outside your window, there’s a good chance the culprit is this extremely vocal bird. There's a reason it hangs around your house, too: This species' diet is largely comprised of insects commonly found in people's backyards such as caterpillars, ants, and grasshoppers.
This bird is a bit of a dandy, with a distinctive black plume on its forehead. The look befits the state famous for show business.
California valley quail
Like many humans, this common bird changes its plumage to a more modest and somewhat drab color during the winter months. This species also likes to travel in packs—several thousand might fly together during migration.
This little songbird is an American favorite, ironically named by European settlers because of its resemblance to a similar bird overseas. Its song is the first you're likely to hear in the morning, as the bird likes to kick things off just before dawn.
This state bird is also the mascot for the University of Delaware. People's affinity for the species dates back to the Revolutionary War when troops from Kent County, Del., kept these birds as pets and staged cockfights with them for amusement. The regiment and their feathered friends were known for their bravery; so much so that the soldiers were nicknamed after the birds.
Delaware blue hen
A loquacious songbird represents this state, though it’s not entirely clear why they didn’t go with a more flashy flamingo instead. This is the third most popular state bird, coming in behind the Northern cardinal and Western meadowlark.
This bird may be dull in color, but it makes up for that in size. On average, they're nearly a foot long.
This unique bird is as rare as it is beautiful. You’ll probably only ever see it in its home state.
Nene (Hawaiian goose)
This sturdy little bird was made for harsh environments, though you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at its delicately beautiful plumage. The species likes to make its home in the hollows of trees, but will happily settle for dirt banks or holes in the sides of cliffs.
This bright and distinctive bird is a popular choice for state symbols and was chosen by Illinois schoolchildren back in 1929. Once most prevalent in the Southeast, the species' northern climb is attributed in part to birdfeeders loaded with the bird's favorite food: sunflower seeds.
This cheerful species is known for being one of America’s favorite backyard birds. That popularity has no doubt contributed to its role as state bird for several states.
You can spot this bird from a mile away by its sunny plumage. Unless it happens to be molting, in which case it might take on a bizarrely patchy appearance.
You’ll spot this melodious songbird throughout the wide open plains of the American Midwest. Its diet consists mostly of seeds and bugs, which the bird finds by rooting in the ground with its bill.
This mid-sized songbird is commonly referred to as the "redbird." It's easily the most popular choice on this list of state birds.
Louisiana is particularly proud of its distinctive state bird, which is known for being generous with its young. This bird can be found on the state's flag, seal, and even in its official painting.
Not unlike the state it represents, this sociable bird is small in size but big in personality. Its distinctive chattering can be heard deep in the woods as well as the suburbs.
This flashy-colored bird builds nests that hang from tree branches. Marylanders love the species so much, it doubles as the namesake for the state's professional baseball team.
This tiny bird has one of the most complex calls in the animal kingdom. It's also nonmigratory, similar to many of the citizens in this iconic state.
Legislation named this common bird as its official mascot in 1931 because it was “the best known and best loved of all the birds” in the state. The species is known for its adaptability and up-beat, whistled song: "Cheerily cheery cheerily cheery."
Minnesota's many beautiful lakes are home to thousands of these distinctive birds, making them the obvious choice as the official state bird. This species is happiest in the water, only going to shore to nest.
This local bird is drab in color but impossible to miss thanks to its constant, melodious calling. The species was so popular in the 1800s that many people kept them as pets, significantly driving down their numbers. The birds did repopulate, however, and can now be found as far away as Hawaii and Canada.
This beautiful bird is known for its colorful plumage, which is perhaps why multiple states claimed it for their own. A significant loss of habitat and nesting areas put the future of this species in danger, but numbers have been on the rise thanks in part to a surge in conservation efforts and birdhouses.
John James Audubon gave this bird its scientific name, Sturnella neglecta, and accused people traveling west after Lewis and Clark of neglecting to notice the species. The bird is a member of the blackbird family, and as such has extremely strong muscles around its bill that allow the animal to pry its beak open inside dirt or bark and pluck otherwise inaccessible bugs or other food from inside.
This state's bird is common in the wide open plains of the American West and Midwest. It can be found singing melodically across remote agricultural areas.
This small but sturdy bird is commonly found on American ranchlands. The species is immediately recognizable for its bright blue color.
New Hampshire might be small, but its official bird may be the flashiest of all. Males of this species boast deep rosy hues, noisy songs, and big beaks.
New Jersey's state bird is also called a Wild Canary. The bright and delicate yellow species can be found snacking on elegant flora like dandelions, sunflowers, and evening primrose.
This pretty bird is easily spotted by its colorful plumage, as well as for the fact that it is one of the first species to return north in the spring. The oldest-recorded bird of this species was more than 10 years old.
Likely one of the first birds American children learn to spot in their backyards, this bright and beloved bird is the favorite of many states. The species' signature red color and spiky hairdos are hard to miss.
Like many Western states, this state chose a common yet well-loved bird that frequents America’s vast prairie lands. Males in this species sing to protect their nesting grounds.
The male version of this state bird is known for its bright red plumage. The brown-colored females are significantly harder to spot.
This strikingly beautiful and large bird makes this state its home base, where it is protected by law. Aside from being gorgeous to look at, this bird makes itself useful by eating harmful insects like grasshoppers and beetles.
This state, like many others, chose a humble bird for its official mascot. Oregon can lay claim as being one of the first states to officially do so, however: School children honored the species in 1927.
Also called a partridge, this hearty and territorial bird can survive in severe winters. You can usually spot it where snow is common in the colder months, outlasting its weaker turkey and quail relatives. You can also hear the bird clearly during mating season: Males flap their wings together to create a thumping sound that is not unlike the hum of an engine starting up.
This state chose a domesticated bird as its official mascot. The species is easy to find on classic American farms and homesteads all over the state and country.
Rhode Island red
This tiny bird is named for its state, making it a perfect choice for the honor. It is so well-loved that intentionally killing one of these birds is punishable by a fine and jail time.
This well-known gamebird is one of the world's most-hunted birds. It is also only one of three state birds not native to the United States.
This popular and highly vocal bird is common all over the United States. The species is recognized for its incredibly complex singing abilities.
Texas may be one of the biggest states in the nation, but its state bird is of modest size. The chatty songbird is common across America and has vocal abilities that stand in contrast to its muted colors.
This bird may seem like an odd choice of mascot for Utah. That is, until you learn the species saved the Utah's agriculture in 1848 by eating crickets that had decimated the state’s crops.
This sweet bird has a lovely, melancholy song. Its name also perfectly suits Vermont's reputation as a cozy hideaway during winter months.
Virginia is one of many states to choose this distinctively colored and widely loved bird as its representative. Still, with the tourism and travel slogan "Virginia is for Lovers," it's fitting the state's official bird would be one that mates for life with its partner.
This brightly colored and active little bird represents two other states. The species is widely adored for its acrobatic flying patterns.
This scarlet-colored beauty is a favorite all over America. The species was officially honored as West Virginia's state bird in 1949.
This bird was voted the state’s symbol by schoolchildren in the 1920s and made official in 1949. In 1971 the state added another bird to its roster: the Mourning Dove, as its official symbol of peace.
This songbird can be found on prairies all across the American plains. The female of the species lays striking eggs that are white with spots of brown and purple and hatch in less than 15 days.