National Birds of Countries and WHY They Were Chosen?
07th July, 2020
Netflix unsplash.com
Symbolism is a powerful tool countries use to build a sense of nationhood. These 25 national birds represent the land’s values and inspire pride and unity. National birds are recognized for being a part of both, the country's fauna and their association to deeply symbolic values. These birds are selected on the basis of multiple factors, the most important of that being whether the common citizen is familiar with them or not. They become emblems of not just oneness, but also serve as an inspiration to the country’s writers, artists, and musicians. Think you know the national bird of every country? This gallery sheds light on some of the most famous national birds from around the globe, their symbolic importance, and interesting trivia on them.
Italy – Italian Sparrow www.shutterstock.com
01
Italy – Italian Sparrow
The scientific name of the bird is passer italiae. It has mostly been accorded the title of national bird due to its widespread presence, but this isn’t confirmed. These creatures are social birds and can be found chirping away even in urban areas.
Puerto Rico – Reina Mora www.shutterstock.com
02
Puerto Rico – Reina Mora
The national bird is also alternatively known as Puerto Rican spindalis. The bird exhibits sexual dimorphism, i.e., males are brightly colored while the females sport dull hues. These birds also engage in “mobbing”, which means attacking a predator in a flock.
Uganda – Grey Crowned Crane unsplash.com
03
Uganda – Grey Crowned Crane
Also known as East-African crowned crane, the national bird is regarded as the country’s national bird because of its beauty and elegance. It also finds its place of pride in the national flag and coat of arms.
El Salvador – Turquoise-browed Motmot www.shutterstock.com
04
El Salvador – Turquoise-browed Motmot
The turquoise-browed motmot was declared as El Salvador’s national bird in the late 90s. It is known as torogoz in El Salvador and guardabarranco in Nicaragua. Distinguishing features of this pretty bird are its unusual blue and turquoise tail feathers.
Bangladesh – Oriental Magpie-Robin unsplash.com
05
Bangladesh – Oriental Magpie-Robin
It is a small but distinctive bird which is particularly known for its melodious call. It is locally referred to as doel pakhi. Magpies mimic a variety of bird calls and are quite the tricksters! Oriental magpie-robins are also found printed on Bangladesh currencies.
Belgium – Common Kestrel www.shutterstock.com
06
Belgium – Common Kestrel
The common kestrel is one of the fastest birds and rightfully belongs to the falcon family. It is known for its preying techniques, aggression, and regalness. Makes you think how Belgium definitely chose well when it came to their national bird!
Cuba – Cuban Trogon www.shutterstock.com
07
Cuba – Cuban Trogon
Known as tocororo, tocoloro, or guatini in different regions, the bird is believed to be Cuba’s national bird because its feathers share the colors of the Cuban flag. It is also believed that since the bird cannot live in captivity, it represents the freedom-loving Cubans.
Japan – Green Pheasant www.shutterstock.com
08
Japan – Green Pheasant
Locally referred to as kiji, the Japanese green pheasant was declared as the national bird in 1947 because of its prominence in ancient legends, mythology, painting, and poetry. These birds are particularly sensitive to impending tremors and earthquakes.
Denmark – Mute Swan unsplash.com
09
Denmark – Mute Swan
This elegant bird replaced the skylark to be declared as a national bird in 1984 by popular vote. Interestingly it is the same species of birds on which the famous story, the “The Ugly Duckling,” was written by Danish poet and author Christian Andersen.
New Zealand – Kiwi www.shutterstock.com
10
New Zealand – Kiwi
New Zealanders share the name with their beloved national bird, which is related to the Australian emu and Madagascar’s elephant bird, and New Zealand’s extinct moa. The country’s indigenous tribe, the Maori, use kiwi feathers to weave the ‘kahukiwi’ (kiwi feather cloak) for their chiefs.
Malaysia – Rhinoceros Hornbill www.shutterstock.com
11
Malaysia – Rhinoceros Hornbill
Another endangered bird revered among many Malaysian tribes, the rhinoceros hornbill is known for its horn-like bill and a casque on its head. Unfortunately, the exotic bird is hunted mainly for ornamental purposes and steady deforestation has also led to its population decreasing rapidly.
Swaziland – ­Purple Crested Turaco www.shutterstock.com
12
Swaziland – ­Purple Crested Turaco
The purple crested turaco bird belongs to the musophagidae family and has characteristic crimson flight feathers. The national bird is found in habitats with evergreen thickets and moist woodlands. This stunning bird is also considered important in the ceremonial regalia of the Swazi Royal Family.
Bahamas – West Indian Flamingo unsplash.com
13
Bahamas – West Indian Flamingo
The flamingo gets its distinctive hue due to beta-carotene, which it gets by eating crustaceans and planktons. Its feathers will turn white unless given the carotenoid pigment! The birds are protected by Bahamas’ Society for the Protection of the Flamingos set up in 1959.
Croatia – Common Nightingale www.shutterstock.com
14
Croatia – Common Nightingale
Nightingales have been used as a metaphor for love and beauty in literature and poetry since time immemorial and we honestly understand why. Contrary to the popular belief, it is the male nightingales who sing to serenade migrating females.
Germany – Golden Eagle unsplash.com
15
Germany – Golden Eagle
The golden eagle has persisted symbolically through the Weimar Republic from 1919 to 1933 and has featured on Germany’s coat of arms since its formation. The magnificent bird symbolizes strength, courage, and victory; values one aspires to stand for.
Israel – Hoopoe www.shutterstock.com
16
Israel – Hoopoe
It is one of the most recently chosen national birds by a country as it was only titled the same in May 2008. Hoopoes get their name from a Latin word – Upupa, which accurately describes their call – A loud “oop.”
India – Peacock unsplash.com
17
India – Peacock
The pavo cristatus or peacock can be easily distinguished by its multicolored fan-shaped crest of feathers and slender blue neck. It was declared as the national bird of India because of its presence in religious texts and traditions throughout Indian history.
Iraq – Chukar Partridge www.shutterstock.com
18
Iraq – Chukar Partridge
Also the national bird of Pakistan, the chukar is known for its round body and close resemblance to quails and pheasants. They can be clearly distinguished by their red eye rings, beak, and feet, and their stocky build makes them quite cute to look at.
Jamaica – Doctor Bird www.shutterstock.com
19
Jamaica – Doctor Bird
The doctor bird is also usually referred to as swallow tail hummingbird and has been immortalized in Jamaican folklore and songs. One the 320 species of hummingbirds, the male can be clearly distinguished by its two long tails. This bird is only found in Jamaica.
Norway – White Throated Dipper www.shutterstock.com
20
Norway – White Throated Dipper
Cinclus cinclus or the white throated dipper is an aquatic passerine bird, primarily found in the Middle East and Europe. It is rotund, white-breasted, and short-tailed. The avian creature habitually falls into running rivers and streams as it perches on rocks on its surface.
Sweden – Common Blackbird unsplash.com
21
Sweden – Common Blackbird
The common blackbird is also called the Eurasian blackbird, and koltrast in Sweden. It was titled the national bird after a newspaper poll in 1962. Goes to show how it isn’t only the most exotic of birds that get chosen to represent the nation!
Bhutan – Common Raven unsplash.com
22
Bhutan – Common Raven
The local name of the common raven is Jarog. It represents Jarog Dongchen, one of the most powerful deities of the country. This national bird is jet blue-black in color and resides in high altitudes in Bhutan and its neighboring countries.
Brazil – Rufous-bellied Thrush www.shutterstock.com
23
Brazil – Rufous-bellied Thrush
Also known as the red-bellied thrush, it belongs to the family turdidae. The bird can be easily recognised by its dark streaks along its throat and orange-red belly. It was declared as Brazil’s national bird in October in 2002 to ensure its protection.
China – Red-crowned Crane www.shutterstock.com
24
China – Red-crowned Crane
The Chinese national bird gets its name from the bare red skin on its crown. Local traditions consider it as a symbol of elegance and immortality and ancient legends even paint them as helpful and wise, making them an apt national symbol.
USA – American bald eagle unsplash.com
25
USA – American bald eagle
It was declared as the national bird of the United States of America in 1782. Scientifically known as haliaeetus leucocephalus, the American bald eagle symbolizes strength and this was recognized even by the Roman legions, who used the majestic bird as their standard or symbol.