National Bird Day - time to take pride in your birds

By Adrian Long, 5 Jan 2016

Everyone has some sort of pride in his or her roots —family, city, area, nation— and for some it may be that birds are the means. National birds are flagships for shared values,  which typifies the country, and which we have a duty to protect. 

So, to celebrate National Bird Day here is a list of national or state birds from around the world. Although many nations have not yet taken the step of selecting a national bird, we have a long list here.

And what a menagerie it is! 

The Common Loon Gavia immer is the national bird of Canada, each of whose states has its own bird (Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus for Alberta, Steller’s Jay Cyanocitta stelleri for British Columbia, Great Grey Owl Strix nebulosa for Manitoba, Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapilla for New Brunswick, Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica for Newfoundland, Gyrfalcon for the Northwest Territories, Osprey for Nova Scotia, Rock Ptarmigan Lagopus mutus for Nunavut, Blue Jay C. cristata for Prince Edward Island, Snowy Owl Nyctea scandica for Quebec, Sharp-tailed Grouse Tympanuchus phasianellus for Saskatchewan and Common Raven Corvus corax for Yukon)—Ontario double-dipping by having the Common Loon.

Bald Eagle is the national bird of the USA. The individual states prize several birds equally. Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis and Northern Mockingbird must be two of the most widely recognized birds in the USA, and they are the “official birds” of no fewer than twelve states between them—Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia for the former, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas for the latter. Also high as a common choice is Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta, claiming Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon and Wyoming, followed by American Robin Turdus migratorius for Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin, American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis for Iowa, New Jersey and Washington, Mountain Bluebird Sialia currucoides for Idaho and Nevada, Eastern Bluebird for Missouri and New York, and Black-capped Chickadee for Maine and Massachusetts. More ruggedly independent are Alabama with Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus, Alaska with Willow Ptarmigan Lagopus lagopus, Arizona Cactus Wren Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus, California California Quail Callipepla californica, Colorado Lark Bunting Calamospiza melanocorys, Delaware Blue Hen (chicken variety), DC Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina, Georgia Brown Thrasher Toxostoma rufum, Hawaii Nene Goose Branta sandvicensis, Louisiana Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis, Maryland Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula, Minnesota Common Loon, New Hampshire Purple Finch Carpodacus purpureus, New Mexico Greater Roadrunner, Oklahoma Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus, Pennsylvania Ruffed Grouse Bonasa umbellus, Rhode Island Rhode Island Red (chicken), South Carolina Carolina Wren Thryothorus ludovicianus, South Dakota Ring-necked Pheasant, Utah the rather inappropriately named California Gull Larus californicus and Vermont Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus.

In the Caribbean both Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands have the Mourning Dove, Antigua & Barbuda the Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens, St Kitts & Nevis the Brown Pelican, both the Bahamas and Bonaire the Caribbean Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber, Bermuda the White-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon lepturus, Cayman Islands the White-headed Amazon Amazona leucocephala, Jamaica the Red-billed Streamertail Trochilus polytmus, Cuba the Cuban Trogon Priotelus temnurus. On Hispaniola, the Hispaniolan Trogon Temnotrogon roseigaster is the “National Bird” of Haita and Palmchat Dulus dominicus of the Dominican Republic, while in Dominica it is the Imperial Amazon Amazona imperialis, Montserrat the Montserrat Oriole Icterus oberi, St Lucia and St Vincent the respective endemic amazons A. versicolor and A. guildingii, and Grenada the Grenada Dove Leptotila wellsi. Puerto Rico, despite its huge struggle to save the Puerto Rican Amazon Amazona vittata, chooses the Puerto Rican Woodpecker Melanerpes portoricensis, while Trinidad & Tobago assigns the Scarlet Ibis to Trinidad and the Rufous-vented Chachalaca Ortalis ruficauda to Tobago.

Mexico chooses the Crested Caracara Caracara cheriway because in AD 1325 it gave the sign to commence work sought by the prospective founders of Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital where Mexico City now stands. In Guatemala the title of national bird is held by the Resplendent Quetzal, in Honduras by the Yellow-naped Amazon Amazona auropalliata, in Belize by the Keel-billed Toucan Ramphastos sulfuratus, in Nicaragua by the Turquoise-browed Motmot Eumomota superciliosa and in Costa Rica by the Clay-coloured Thrush, something of which some of the country’s more permissive inhabitants may be extravagantly proud if ever they learn about the private life of this species. Panama goes for the all-powerful Harpy Eagle Harpia harpyja. Peru selects the Andean Cock-of-the-rock Rupicola peruviana and Paraguay the Bare-throated Bellbird Procnias nudicollis. In Brazil, a group of cagebird fanciers proposed the Rufous-bellied Thrush as the national bird, although they were ultimately thwarted by a counter-proposal for something more colourful, if less pleasant to listen to, the Golden Parakeet Guarouba guarouba. The Andean Condor is on the coat of arms of Colombia, Ecuador,  Bolivia and Chile! Argentina settles for the more modest but characterful Rufous Hornero Furnarius rufus, Venezuela chooses the Troupial Icterus icterus and Guyana the bizarre and wonderful Hoatzin Opisthocomus hoazin.

The Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa  is the national bird of the Netherlands. The European Robin iwas voted the national bird of the United Kingdom in 2015. Iceland has the Gyrfalcon, Belgium the Kestrel Falco tinnunculus, Luxembourg the Goldcrest Regulus regulus, Denmark the Mute Swan Cygnus olor, France the cockerel, Germany and Lithuania the White Stork, Poland the Golden Eagle, Austria and Estonia the Barn Swallow, Latvia the Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba and Hungary the Great Bustard Otis tarda. Norway has the White-throated Dipper, Sweden the Common Blackbird, Finland the Whooper Swan and Malta the Blue Rock-thrush Monticola solitarius, while Turkey has, for some reason, the Redwing Turdus iliacus. Jordan has the Sinai Rosefinch Carpodacus sinoicus, Iraq and Pakistan the Chukar Alectoris chukar.

Africa has fewer crane species than Asia, but it makes better use of them. Nigeria has the Black Crowned Crane Balearica pavonina as its national bird, Uganda the Grey B. regulorum, with South Africa selecting the graceful Blue Crane Anthropoides paradisaea. Namibia has the Crimson-breasted Shrike Laniarius atrococcineus and Botswana the Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori, while Zambia and Zimbabwe both plump for the African Fish-eagle Haliaeetus vocifer. Liberia chooses the Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus, while São Tomé e Príncipe follow Trinidad & Tobago in democratically selecting a bird for each island, the Black Kite Milvus migrans for São Tomé and Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus for Príncipe.

Pheasants naturally rank highly in the national birds of Asia. India has the Blue Peafowl, Sri Lanka the Sri Lanka Junglefowl Gallus lafayeti, Nepal the Himalayan Monal Lophophorus impejanus, Myanmar the Grey Peacock-pheasant Polyplecron bicalcaratum and Thailand the Siamese Fireback Lophura diardi, leaving Bangladesh rather out on a limb in South Asia with the Oriental Magpie-robin; moreover, Japan has the Ring-necked (“Green”) Pheasant and China, while not having a national bird itself, assigns its provinces Ningxia the Blue Eared-pheasant Crossoptilon auritum and Shanxi the Brown Eared-pheasant C. mantchuricum, while Shaanxi takes the Crested Ibis Nipponia nippon. Singapore has the Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja. The Rhinoceros Hornbill is the national emblem of the Malaysian State of Sarawak, and appears prominently on its coat of arms. In Indonesia, whose national bird is the Javan Hawk-eagle Spizaetus bartelsi, the Knobbed Hornbill Aceros cassidix is the emblem of South Sulawesi Province and the Helmeted Hornbill that of West Kalimantan Province. South Korea the Black-billed Magpie Pica pica. The Philippine Eagle is the symbol of the Philippines, the Kagu is that of New Caledonia. Papua New Guinea sports the Raggiana Bird-of-paradise Paradisaea raggiana. Australia has the Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae, with ACT having the Gang-gang Cockatoo Callocephalon fimbriatum, New South Wales Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae, Northern Territory Wedge-tailed Eagle Aquila audax, Queensland Brolga, South Australia White-backed Magpie Gymnorhina tibicen, Victoria Helmeted Honeyeater Lichenostomus melanops and Western Australia Black Swan Cygnus atratus; New Zealand of course has the Brown Kiwi Apteryx australis.

List originally compiled for Birds and People