Many people are proud of the states where they live and are happy to share all the wonderful things they love about their state. Some people have taken this to a new level by naming birds after their state. Interestingly though, some of these are not the official bird for their state. Nonetheless, they were significant enough to be named after one of the great 50 states.
The California Condor is not only endangered but one of the most rare species of birds in the world. It's known for its impressive size and wingspan. With a wingspan reaching up to 9.5 feet, they are the largest bird in North America. The next largest bird, the Golden Eagle, has a wingspan two feet shorter than the California Condor. These Condors nearly went extinct in the 1980s, but thanks to conservation and captive breeding efforts, they are growing in population again, though still endangered.
Alaska Willow Ptarmigan
As you can see, the Alaskan Willow Ptarmigan easily blends into the mix of snow and dying plants in the winter. This is the official state bird of Alaska and is named as such. They adapt well to the cold and have feathered feet to help keep them warm and grip the snow. Willows will change their coloring throughout the year to better blend into the environment and hide from predators.
This little water bird is not only found in Virginia but in other marshy areas throughout the United States. It's a secretive bird, so despite being fairly common, you'll have a hard time spotting one in the wild. It makes a loud grunting sound rather than a pleasant chirp or song. Even though it's named after the state, Virginia did not select the Rail as its state bird.
The long, dark, curved bill of the California Thrasher is quite unique and allows it to eat a variety of foods, including insects and berries. It is a relative of the mockingbird and frequently mimics the songs of other birds. One of its more common sounds emulates a smacking kiss. It is aptly named as it is typically only found in California and along the upper corner of Baja, Mexico. It walks and runs more than it flies and can be found on the ground digging in the dirt with its hooked bill.
While not technically named after a state, Maryland has happily claimed the Baltimore Oriole as its state bird. They are known for their striking bright orange and black plumage. While they typically spend the winter in warmer climates, Baltimore Orioles return to their northern breeding grounds every April and May. The males tend to be more colorful, whereas the females are usually a combination of yellow-orange on their belly and olive-green in broken patterns across their back.
This little warbler is known for its distinctive bobbing walk. It lives near forested streams and in wetlands. Though they are found in Louisiana, and named after the state, they can be found all across the eastern United States. The Latin name for this bird, motacilla, means "tail-wagger", though the motion they make with their tail tends to be more of a bob or dip rather than a wag.
Not the prettiest bird, but nonetheless, Californias are happy to claim it. Utahns have claimed this as their state bird due to the birds saving the crop of early Utah settlers by eating swarms of crickets. These birds typically live near large bodies of water including the Pacific Ocean and the Great Salt Lake. California Gulls breed in large groups and make their nests on marshy ground using grass, weeds, and feathers.
This warbler was first observed in Tennessee and was thus named after the Volunteer State. It does not breed in Tennessee, though the warbler does pass through the state during its migration to Central and South America. These birds are quite dainty and have small bills. While not as colorful as other warbler species, it does have a pleasant accent of green on its wings which complements the rest of its gray-green body.
This little songbird is common in the southeastern United States. It breeds here and then migrates to Central America for the winter. It has a notably bright yellow chest and olive-green upper body with hints of black throughout. Despite its small size, this bird is quite loud and can be heard even in a dense forest. It spends a lot of time on or near the ground but will fly to higher branches when it's ready to sing.
Mississippi has claimed the kite, though not as its state bird. However, these birds of prey are quite graceful and frequent areas around the Mississippi River. They can easily catch insects in mid-air and are skilled hunters. It is common to see multiple flying near one another. Their call is usually high-pitched and sounds like a whistle. Farmers love having these birds around as they typically eat insects that would otherwise destroy crops.
Gorgeous, Self-Seeding Flowers You'll Only Have to Plant Once
Growing flowers from seeds is an inexpensive and great way to grow annuals (plants that only live for one year). However, just because you plant them once doesn't mean you'll have to re-plant them each. Some plants self-seed quite easily and will come back year after year with very little effort on your part. Many of these flowers also attract pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, to your garden.
Butterflies Can't Resist These Flowering Plants
Watching butterflies around your garden is a great way to relax and unwind. Encouraging these beautiful insects to come into your yard is as simple as growing plants they're attracted to. While nearly any flowering plant will bring butterflies into your garden, the plants in this list are tried-and-true butterfly favorites.
9 Easiest Vegetables to Start Growing in Your Garden
What could be more fun than harvesting your own vegetables throughout the summer? If you're ready to have fresh produce from your own garden, these vegetables are great to start with. Not only are they easy to grow, but they're popular options that you'll love eating raw or cooked in a delicious meal.
12 Popular Plants to Absolutely Avoid Growing In Your Garden
While gardening can be fun, make sure you avoid the plants on this list unless you want a headache. Some plants can become quite invasive and others have roots that can destroy the foundation of your house or break up sidewalks. Keep these plants out of your garden and you're on your way to a more pleasant and low-maintenance gardening experience.
The Worst Gardening Mistakes Beginners Make Regularly
Gardening is a lot of fun but can also be quite overwhelming if you're just starting out. Naturally, new gardeners often learn from what they see more experienced growers doing. Sometimes this can lead to mistakes as beginners don't have the same knowledge and experience. These mistakes can be avoidable, but you have to know what to look for.
This article originally appeared on Succulents and Sunshine.