GHENT, WV (WVNS)– Since 1949, the common cardinal has been the state bird of West Virginia, but the reasoning behind this choice might not be quite as common.

According to, West Virginia is one of six states that view the cardinal as a symbol of the state. In 1949, WV citizens voted to make this for several reasons.


The cardinal is known for its beautiful red color and black mask, making it one of the most recognizable birds in the nation. Though the flashy colors mostly come from the males, both male and female cardinals are known for their pointed tufts and red beaks.

They do not migrate

Most cardinals can be spotted year-round in their natural habitat and can be seen in the Appalachian Mountains and as far west as the Rockey Mountains and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Like many proud West Virginians, the cardinal decides to stay home regardless of the conditions.


Cardinals are very territorial and will always investigate and protect their homes whenever they hear the distinctive song of another cardinal. This level of dedication to the defense of its home is yet another relatable trait West Virginians have, because both cardinals and many West Virginians work hard to protect their home.