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State Birds of the US
State Symbols: State Birds

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West Virginia State Bird

Northern Cardinal

State Symbol: West Virginia State Bird - Cardinal

(Cardinalis cardinalis)

Adopted on March 7, 1949.

The northern cardinal, (Cardinalis cardinalis,) won the honors however, in 1949. According to the West Virginia Legislature, the cardinal was adopted by House Concurrent Resolution No. 12, on March 7, 1949.

Before there was a West Virginia, there was a Virginia. But when it comes to state birds, West Virginia adopted the cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) before Virginia.

The northern cardinal is also the state bird for six other states. These are Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.

West Virginia State Bird: Cardinal

State Symbol: West Virginia State Bird: Cardinal - Redbird

The male of the species is a rich scarlet with a mask and shading of black, while the young birds and females are a less brilliant color. The cardinal measures approximately eight inches long and is found from New York state to the Gulf of Mexico and as far west as Oklahoma. Its scientific name is Cardinalis cardinalis.

The Cardinal is sometimes called the Winter Redbird because it is most noticeable during the winter when it is the only "redbird" present. The Cardinal is one of the most common birds in our gardens, meadows, and woodlands. The male Cardinal is red all over, except for the area of its throat and the region around its bill which is black; it is about the size of a Catbird only with a longer tail. The head is conspicuously crested and the large stout bill is red. The female is much duller in color with the red confined mostly to the crest, wings, and tail. This difference in coloring is common among many birds. Since it is the female that sits on the nest, her coloring must blend more with her natural surroundings to protect her eggs and young from predators. There are no seasonal changes in her plumage.

The Cardinal is a fine singer, and what is unusual is that the female sings as beautifully as the male. The male generally monopolizes the art of song in the bird world.

The nest of the Cardinal is rather an untidy affair built of weed stems, grass and similar materials in low shrubs, small trees or bunches of briars, generally not over four feet above the ground. The usual number of eggs set is three in the South and four in the North. Possibly the Cardinal raises an extra brood down in the South to make up the difference, or possibly the population is more easily maintained here by the more moderate winters compared to the colder North.

The Cardinal is by nature a seed eater, but he does not dislike small fruits and insects.

West Virginia Code

Adopted by House Concurrent Resolution, the cardinal is not documented as the official bird of the state in the West Virginia Code.

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Cardinal

Kingdom: Animalia - animals
Phylum: Chordata - chordates
    Subphylum: Vertebrata - vertebrates
Class: Aves - birds
Order: Passeriformes - perching birds
Family: Fringillidae - buntings, finches, grosbeaks, old world finches, sparrows
Genus: Cardinalis Bonaparte, 1838 - cardinals
Species: Cardinalis cardinalis (Linnaeus, 1758) - Cardenal rojo, northern cardinal

Official State Birds
US map : Birds & Flowers
State Bird:  Bird selected (by the legislature) as an emblem of a State.
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