Birds provide the perfect form of symbolism. They are representative of various virtues that different countries would like to be associated with. With pleasant adjectives like strength, resilience, freedom or simply beauty used to describe our feathered friends, it is little wonder that for many years, they have provided an identity for different regions and have adorned several flags and coat-of-arms. Below is a selection of 12 officially recognized national Birds:
1. Indian Peacock-India
India’s large, crested national bird is the embodiment of elegance and style. Effortlessly conspicuous, the male peacock is deep blue in color and stands from the crowd with its long train of spotted covert feathers, which can be lifted off the ground to form a spectacular fan. India took up the peacock as its national bird in 1963.
2. Red Crested Turaco-Angola
Turacos are a fan favorite in Africa. It is only fitting that the Red-crested turaco would be the national bird of the country it is native to-Angola. A shy and poor flier, this medium-sized red and green bird can be found in pairs or groups of up to 30 individuals.
3. Andean cock-of-the-rock-Peru
Endemic to forests of South America and large in size, the Andean cock-of-the-rock is Peru’s feathered icon. While the females are a dark brown in color, the larger males are noticeably orange or scarlet with a crest reminiscent of a disk. Despite their hard-to-miss plumage, they are hard to spot in their natural habitat.
Named for its “oop-oop-oop” call, the hoopoe is a medium-sized bird characterized by its crown of feathers and long, thin bill. Besides being Israel’s national bird, the wide-spread hoopoe has a cultural impact in other regions and has been depicted in religious books and mythologies.
5. Bald eagle-USA
Such a list would be incomplete without the bald eagle. One of the most mentioned birds in the word, this apex predator is a true representation of might. The fish-feeder is armed with a powerful beak and talons conducive to its mode of survival. The bald eagle has been a significant fixture in native American culture and is present in USA’s seal.
6. Resplendent quetzal-Guatemala
Being titled a national bird and getting coverage on the country’s flag as well as coat of arms is an honor not accorded to many birds. The resplendent quetzal, largest among the trogon family, gets to enjoy this privilege bestowed on it by Guatemala. These green and red-breasted birds have been classified as near threatened due to loss of habitat.
7. Common Kestrel-Belgium
Wide-spread in Africa, Europe and Asia, the chestnut-brown common kestrel, as expected of a bird of prey its size invokes feelings of energy and strength making it a suitable symbol for Belgium.
8. African fish eagle-South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia
Being the national bird of not one but five countries is the preserve of the African fish eagle that inhabits a large range in Sub-Saharan Africa. Just like the bald eagle, the African fish eagle has a brown body and white head, lives near water bodies and survives predominantly on fish.
9. Cuban Trogon-Cuba
Chosen as the national bird of the native country it is named for, the Cuban trogon has the added advantage of having the colors present in the Cuban flag- blue, white and red. Similar to other trogons, it has a distinctive long fluffy tail.
10. Green Pheasant-Japan
Endemic to Japan where they occupy a large range, the green pheasant can also be found in Hawaii, while mixed breeds occupy areas within Western Europe. They are notable for their ability to detect earth tremors and subsequently alerting humans via their calls.
11. Doctor Bird-Jamaica
Doctor birds have an assortment of other names such as the red-billed streamertail and scissors tail hummingbird. The male is iridescent green and equipped with steamers that are more than double the size of the bird and make a humming sound during flight. Females are without these rectrices and are a paler shade of green.
12. Keel-billed toucan-Belize
This social bird does not disappoint when it comes to living up to the hype of the toucans. With its large, multi-colored bill, blue feet and yellow neck, it is without a doubt a sight to behold and a suitable representation of scenic Belize.
Although long extinct with the last sighting taking place in 1662, the dodo remains an integral part of its native country making an appearance in Mauritius’ coat of arms.