North Carolina State Bird

The Cardinal is the North Carolina State Bird

The North Carolina state bird is the cardinal. More specifically, the state bird is officially the Northern Cardinal. However, this bird is commonly referred to simply as the "cardinal." The scientific name of this bird is cardinalis cardinalis.

The cardinal is widespread in the eastern United States, especially the southeastern United States. It is very common in North Carolina. It is known for the beauty of its song and for its spirited personality. These qualities may have played a part in the cardinal's selection as the state bird of North Carolina and of several other states.

The State Legislature Selected the Cardinal in 1943

The state legislature of North Carolina officially selected the cardinal as the state bird on March 8th, 1943. At the time, North Carolina and Connecticut were the only states without an official state bird. Many bird-related clubs were putting pressure on the North Carolina state legislature to name an official state bird, which they mentioned in the bill that named the Cardinal as the official bird of North Carolina. While North Carolina did not have a state bird in 1943, the cardinal is actually not the first state bird of North Carolina.

The Carolina Chickadee was the First State Bird

One little-known fact from North Carolina state history is that the Carolina Chickadee was actually the first state bird. In 1933, the state legislature made this selection at the suggestion of the North Carolina Federation of Women's Clubs. However, the Carolina Chickadee was only the state bird for a week. The North Carolina state legislature considered the bird's nickname, "tomtit," to be undignified. They decided they didn't want to risk North Carolina being known as the "Tomtit State." The Carolina Chickadee was subsequently removed as the state bird. North Carolina reverted to not having a state bird for the next 10 years.

6 Other States Have the Same State Bird

As previously mentioned, the cardinal is a fairly common bird in a large part of the United States. Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in the cardinal becoming one of the most popular state birds in the country. In fact, six states besides North Carolina have officially named the cardinal as their state bird. These states are West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. All these states chose the cardinal before North Carolina, which may have contributed to North Carolina's selection.

North Carolina state bird
Northern cardinal
Scientific Name
Cardinalis cardinalis
Year Became Official