The official national bird of the United States is the Bald Eagle. For that matter, it’s also the official animal. Thankfully it was removed from the endangered species list a mere 5 years ago. Aside from the bird itself Americans love the symbolism that the eagle implies — strength, speed, leadership and achievement. But do Americans know their State bird. A recent article from the bird-lovers over at Slate will refresh your memory, and also recommend a more relevant alternative.
I drove over a bridge from Maryland into Virginia today and on the big “Welcome to Virginia” sign was an image of the state bird, the northern cardinal—with a yellow bill. I should have scoffed, but it hardly registered. Everyone knows that state birds are a big joke. There are a million cardinals, a scattering of robins, and just a general lack of thought put into the whole thing.
States should have to put more thought into their state bird than I put into picking my socks in the morning. “Ugh, state bird? I dunno, what’re the guys next to us doing? Cardinal? OK, let’s do that too. Yeah put it on all the signs. Nah, no time to research the bill color, let’s just go.” It’s the official state bird! Well, since all these jackanape states are too busy passing laws requiring everyone to own guns or whatever to consider what their state bird should be, I guess I’ll have to do it.
1. Alabama. Official state bird: yellowhammer
Right out of the gate with this thing. Yellowhammer? C’mon. I Asked Jeeves and it told me that Yellowhammer is some backwoods name for a yellow-shafted flicker. The origin story dates to the Civil War, when some Alabama troops wore yellow-trimmed uniforms. Sorry, but that’s dumb, mostly because it’s just a coincidence and has nothing to do with the actual bird. If you want a woodpecker, go for something with a little more cachet, something that’s at least a full species.
What it should be: red-cockaded woodpecker
2. Alaska. Official state bird: willow ptarmigan
Willow Ptarmigans are the dumbest-sounding birds on Earth, sorry. They sound like rejected Star Wars aliens, angrily standing outside the Mos Eisley Cantina because their IDs were rejected. Why go with these dopes, Alaska, when you’re the best state to see the most awesome falcon on Earth?
What it should be: gyrfalcon
3. Arizona. Official state bird: cactus wren
Cactus Wren is like the only boring bird in the entire state. I can’t believe it.
What it should be: red-faced warbler
4. Arkansas. Official state bird: northern mockingbird
Christ. What makes this even less funny is that there are like eight other states with mockingbird as their official bird. I’m convinced that the guy whose job it was to report to the state’s legislature on what the official bird should be forgot until the day it was due and he was in line for a breakfast sandwich at Burger King. In a panic he walked outside and selected the first bird he could find, a dirty mockingbird singing its stupid head off on top of a dumpster.
What it should be: painted bunting
5. California. Official state bird: California quail
… Or perhaps the largest, most radical bird on the continent?
What it should be: California condor
6. Colorado. Official state bird: lark bunting
Read the entire article here.
Image: Bald Eagle, Kodiak Alaska, 2010. Courtesy of Yathin S Krishnappa / Wikipedia.