A state bird is a bird that is chosen to represent a particular state within the United States of America as a symbol. All 50 states have a state bird, with the last one being chosen by Arizona in 1973. This bird is typically chosen to be symbolic of a state for a number of different reasons, and is usually a bird that is either common or unique to a particular region. Many states also have state flowers, state plants, and state mottos, as well as unique state flags.
The state bird for a state is typically chosen by the legislature of that state, representatives of the people elected to draft and enact laws for the citizens of that state. This began in 1926 when the state of Kentucky chose the northern cardinal as its official state bird; this selection was then recodified in 1942. Several more states followed suit in 1927, including Alabama, Florida, and Texas.
Not all state birds are unique, in fact unique state birds are quite uncommon with seven states sharing the northern cardinal, six states sharing the western meadowlark, and five states all using the northern mockingbird as official state bird. New Mexico is the only state to use the greater roadrunner, while Arizona also has a unique state bird with the cactus wren. Some states also have both state birds and state game birds, typically when both types of birds are quite common or important to the citizens of a state.
For example, the state of Alabama has the northern flicker, or yellowhammer woodpecker, as the state bird, but also has the wild turkey as a state game bird. Other states, such as Delaware, have game birds that are also state birds. The Delaware state bird is the blue hen chicken, a symbol that stems from the American Revolutionary War when soldiers from Delaware were described as being as tenacious as fighting roosters.
States might have multiple state birds for other reasons as well; such as Mississippi, which has both the Northern mockingbird as an official bird, and the wood duck as the official state water fowl. State birds are not necessarily unchanging, however, and popular sentiment can change and revise the statutes that indicate the official bird for a state. For example, South Carolina had the northern mockingbird from 1939 to 1948. This was changed in 1948, however, to the Carolina wren and in 1976 the wild turkey was also added as the state wild game bird.