The Kentucky state bird and flower are the northern cardinal and the golden rod. Both of these symbols showcase the state of Kentucky incredibly well, whilst paying homage to the history of the state and its residents.

State symbols were adopted by states to best represent them and their historical roots, and past and present successes. Like all other states, there are many Kentucky state symbols that epitomize the state.

Kentucky state bird

Both the state bird and flower for Kentucky were adopted some years after the first official Kentucky symbol was, back in 1792. Since then, many different symbols have been adopted within the state, in the form of animals, mammals, butterflies, trees, fruits, vegetables, amphibians, nicknames, state seals, and much more.

The Symbolism Of Birds

What is the Kentucky State Bird?

The official Kentucky state bird is the northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) after being adopted in 1926. They seem to be an incredibly popular choice as six other states use the northern cardinal to represent their state bird, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Despite the tropical bright red appearance and parrot-like beak, they are actually incredibly common “backyard birds” that can be found all over the nation singing their unique song, known for its “cheer cheer cheer” or “whit-chew whit-chew” sounds.

The male cardinals showcase a stunning scarlet red body and face, with an orange beak, and the females are more of a brown/reddish coloration. Both the male and female have a black mask, puffy chest, and a heavy bill each.

Kentucky state bird

They sing their beautiful songs all year round, bringing much joy to people, especially those who enjoy birdwatching as a hobby.

The male cardinals are territorial and will defend their territory at all costs. Their territory area only consists of about 4 acres. Funnily enough, people have spotted the males attacking bright red objects in confusion, thinking they are other males.

Facts About the State Bird of Kentucky

There is so much more than what meets the eye with these gorgeous birds, which has created an abundance of facts about them that most people probably didn’t know!

Here are some awesome northern cardinal facts:

  • They breed 2 to 3 times per season.
  • The female will build and tend to the nest for 10 days whilst the male hunts for food.
  • Female northern cardinals will lay between 2 to 5 eggs.
  • The female will then move onto another nest to start building for her next clutch of eggs.
  • Despite popular belief, they are not an endangered species of bird, unlike the yellow cardinal.
  • They are extremely adaptable, which is why they are actually growing in wild numbers.
  • Since 1918, they have been no longer allowed to be kept as pets in a cage.
  • In the wild, they usually live to about 3 years old.

All of these interesting facts, paired with their history and significance within the state are the reason why so many Americans love them, and part of the reason for their adoption as the official Kentucky state bird.

What is the State Flower of Kentucky?

Since 1926, the famous and gorgeous goldenrod (Solidago gigantea) has been the official state flower of Kentucky. There are around thirty different variations of the goldenrod that can be found in Kentucky, which has something to do with its immense popularity within the state.

But it is not just popular in Kentucky, just like the northern cardinal, there are other states that use the goldenrod as a state symbol. South Carolina adopted the goldenrod as their state wildflower, and Delaware uses the sweet goldenrod as the official state herb.

Kentucky state flower

Before the goldenrod took over, bluegrass was the previous state flower, which makes sense as “bluegrass” is still the official Kentucky nickname. Goldenrods are truly remarkable, with their flowers blooming in the late summer months, and reaching an incredible eight feet tall!

It was in 1921 when the Kentucky Federation of Women’s Clubs began promoting the goldenrod as a suitable floral symbol of the state. Their argument was that the goldenrod grew freely across the entire state and even managed to feature on the Kentucky state flag back in 1918.

Facts About the State Flower of Kentucky

Now, let’s take a look at some facts regarding the famous Kentucky state flower, goldenrods:

  • There are over 150 different species of goldenrod.
  • Whilst most goldenrod species are yellow in color, there are one species that is actually white.
  • There are many different health benefits to having goldenrod tea on a regular basis.
  • The scientific name “Solidago” translates to heal or whole.

Final Thoughts

Most states will have their symbols showcase a relevant story, that is indicative of the state and its history, and the Bluegrass State puts its history and what it stands for across very well in its state bird and flower.

These interesting facts about Kentucky and a whole host of others are what make the state so unique and fascinating to those that live there, those that are planning to visit, or anyone researching the historical events of the state and what they symbolize.