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State Birds

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have official birds. To become a state bird, it helped to be familiar, colorful, and have a punchy song. The Northern Cardinal perches as state bird in seven eastern states, the Western Meadowlark in six western states. Bluebirds - like this Western Bluebird - and goldfinches are mascots of another seven. The country's most insistent songster, the Northern Mockingbird, holds down five states. And Washington, DC's official bird? The shy Wood Thrush! Find out which bird is your state bird.  Learn more about these state birds at Cornell's All About Birds.

Full Transcript



State Birds

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

 [Northern Cardinal song]

 Think a moment: what is your state bird? 
 All 50 states and the District of Columbia declare official birds. Most were chosen many decades back. To run as a top candidate for state bird in those days, it helped to be familiar, boldly colorful, and have a punchy song.

The defiantly red, sweetly singing Northern Cardinal perches as state bird in seven eastern states. [Northern Cardinal song] The sunny yellow Western Meadowlark sings its liquid phrases for six western states. [Western Meadowlark song] Bluebirds and goldfinches flash primary colors for another seven. And the Northern Mockingbird, the country’s most insistent songster, holds down five states. [Northern Mockingbird song]

So it is the exceptions to the loud and colorful that stand out. New Mexico elected the Greater Roadrunner, a quirky emblem of the Southwest. [Greater Roadrunner song]. But the most ironic choice comes from the District of Columbia, the most raucous and unsubtle venue of all. They chose the Wood Thrush, a shy bird of forest shadows with a voice approaching high art. [Wood Thrush song]

For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.


Call of the provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Northern Cardinal recorded by G.A. Keller; Western Meadowlark by W.R. Fish; Northern Mockingbird W.L. Hershberger; Greater Roadrunner A.A. Allen; Wood Thrush G. F. Budney.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to

ID# statebird-02-2009-04-27-MM-


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