Discover the Official State Bird of Illinois: The Northern Cardinal

Illinois is the 25th state in the United States of America. It is known for its iconic Chicago skyline, deep dish pizza, and corn fields as far as the eye can see. But what about its state bird? In this blog post, we will discuss what the state bird of Illinois is and why it was chosen.

The State Bird

The official state bird of Illinois is the Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis). The male cardinal has a vibrant red plumage with a black mask-like area around their beaks. Female cardinals have a grayish-brown coloration with some touches of red on their wings and tail feathers.

Why Was It Chosen?

In 1929, schoolchildren across Illinois were polled to decide which bird should represent their state. From that poll emerged two strong contenders: the Northern Cardinal and Bobwhite Quail. However, after much deliberation by lawmakers and other interested parties, it was decided that the Northern Cardinal would become Illinois’ official state bird in 1929.

One reason why this colorful avian species won over others like quails or sparrows might be because they are easily recognizable by many people outside of ornithology circles due to their bright plumage colors which make them stand out from other birds; another might be because they are year-round residents in much of North America.


Northern Cardinals are native to most parts of North America including Canada but found commonly throughout eastern United States such as New York City’s Central Park where visitors enjoy watching these beautiful birds fly around trees branches searching for food or nesting material during springtime breeding season when males usually sing loudly to defend territory against rivals while females build nests nearby where eggs incubate until hatching time arrives several weeks later!

These birds also have an important role beyond simply being one-of-a-kind feathered creatures. They help control insect populations by eating bugs that can cause damage to crops or gardens, and their seeds are an important food source for many animals including squirrels and larger birds like woodpeckers.


In conclusion, the Northern Cardinal is a fascinating bird species with many interesting characteristics that make it a worthy choice as Illinois’ state bird. Its bright red plumage makes it easily recognizable to people of all ages and backgrounds while its natural habits as an insect eater and seed distributor also benefit surrounding ecosystems. With more awareness about this majestic species in Illinois, we hope more people will appreciate them not just for their physical beauty but also for their ecological importance within our local environment!