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What Is Maine’s State Bird? How Was It Decided?

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black capped chickadee

Looking into the history of Maine’s prized wildlife, we can see why it’s such a beloved destination in the United States for birdwatching. Birds here are incredibly diverse, and Maine is a place that takes its wildlife seriously, protecting a large portion of its ecosystems—both land and sea. 

Because of its incredible wildlife, you might be curious about what Maines’ state bird is. To answer that, we’ll have to go back in time to early in the 20th century. In 1927, seven states, one of which included Maine, were given a bird to represent their residency. The Black-Capped Chickadee was given the title of Maine’s state bird. Below, we’ll explain why they chose it, in addition to a few frequently asked questions that you might have.

How Was It Decided?

The reason why legislatures picked the chickadee as its center point was due to its prominence in the state, as it’s one of the most common birds in the northeastern US. However, at the time of this declaration, there was no specification of what kind of chickadee it would be.

There is another prevalent species called the Boreal Chickadee, which also lives in Maine but in the northern region. Still, the Black-Capped Chickadee holds the crown.

One neat thing about this is that the Maine government uses this bird along with the state flower, the white pinecone, to illustrate their default license plate, further proving their importance to the state’s ecosystem.

judge work in the office with judge gavel
Image Credit: PaeGAG, Shutterstock

What Is a Black-Capped Chickadee?

Known by its scientific name Parus atricapillus, Black-Capped Chickadees are small birds that primarily live in temperate forests and that love to nest in tree cavities. Their tiny frames and rounded heads make them adorable backyard critters. Their bodies consist of a grayish-white blend in addition to their famous black “cap”.

They frequent bird feeders and are fond of seeds or small nuts but predominantly forage for insects, like ants or beetles, in the wild. If you’re from New England, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll hear their iconic “chickadee-dee-dee” calls throughout the entire year.

black-capped chickadee perching on a branch
Image Credit: edbo23, Pixabay

Why Do We Have State Birds?

In order to represent the natural beauty of a state, country, or region, species of birds, plants, or mammals are given titles to honor each location. As we mentioned above, Maine’s state flower is the white pinecone—although it may not seem like a flower to some.

Do Other States Have This Species as Their State Bird?

Maine isn’t the only home to the Black-Capped Chickadee. Plenty of other northeastern regions have high populations of this bird, and Massachusetts has chosen the chickadee as their state bird as well.

Black-capped Chickadee
Image By: Laura Ganz, Pexels

How You Can Watch a Black-Capped Chickadee

If you’re in Maine and want to see the state’s beloved flying creature, it won’t be a daunting task to find one. Take a walk in almost any forest or natural area and listen for their distinct “chickadee-dee-dee” song. They are small and quick, though, so you might want to use binoculars to get a closer look. We hope you enjoy your bird watching experience and get to spot one of these small aerial beauties!

Read More: 10 Common Types of Sparrows in Maine (With Pictures)

Featured Image Credit: gregg williams, Shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.