Tennessee State Bird

What Is the Official State Bird of Tennessee?

The official state bird of Tennessee is the northern mockingbird. A lot of people are very familiar with this bird because they intrinsically associate it with the famous book, To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee. Because of the nature of the story, the northern mockingbird is also very closely associated with the Civil Rights Movement, which took place during the 20th century. Even though Tennessee was thinking about a few other birds to be the state bird, it eventually decided to go with the northern mockingbird.

What Does the Northern Mockingbird Look Like?

When Northern Mockingbirds first hatch, they are very small. They grow quickly, as the adult northern mockingbird is approximately 10 inches long. Despite its length, it is still a very light bird, as it usually only weighs about two ounces. The wingspan is actually longer than the length of the bird. It is not unusual for a northern mockingbird to have a wingspan that is greater than one foot wide.

Typically, the northern mockingbird has a grey appearance. There are a lot of Northern Mockingbirds that have some white patches of feathers scattered across the body, and there are a few white spots on the underside of the wings as well. The darkest portion of the northern mockingbird is its tail, where there are typically some black feathers present. The legs of the northern mockingbird are usually black as well.

How Did the Northern Mockingbird Get its Name?

The northern mockingbird got its name because of the song it sings. The male mockingbird is responsible for singing a song when it is trying to find a mate. The northern mockingbird can imitate just about any song that it hears. For example, if there is a song on the radio, the northern mockingbird may try to mimic the song. Or, if there is someone singing nearby, the northern mockingbird may try to sing that song as well. Therefore, a lot of people also refer to the northern mockingbirds as mimics because of their ability to sing just about anything. If the northern mockingbird is able to sing a beautiful song, it increases its ability to find a mate.

Why Did Tennessee Pick the Northern Mockingbird?

Tennessee decided to pick the northern mockingbird as its official state bird in 1933. There were a few reasons why Tennessee decided to pick this bird. First, during this time, a lot of states were picking an official state bird, and many states asked for input from schoolchildren. Tennessee was no different, and many of the kids decided to vote for the northern mockingbird. Then, the matter went to the state legislature, which did not see any issue with the northern mockingbird as its state bird. That is how the issue was settled, and the northern mockingbird is the state bird of TN to this day. There are a few other states that also have the northern mockingbird as their official state bird, including South Carolina.

Tennessee state bird
Northern mockingbird
Scientific Name
Mimus polyglottos
Year Became Official