On This Date In Twin Cities History - March 13, 1961


On this date in 1961, the loon (Gavia immer) was designated as Minnesota’s State Bird by the Minnesota State Legislature. The statute (Minnesota Statutes 1.145) also states that “a photograph of the loon shall be preserved in the Office of the Secretary of State.”

Before the Legislature decided on the loon as Minnesota’s state bird, several other birds were suggested, including the Eastern goldfinch (1947), the mourning dove (1951), the pileated woodpecker (1951 and 1953), the scarlet tanager (1951) and the wood duck (1951).  The successful 1961 bill was authored by Senator Norman Walz and Representative Loren Rutter, and was signed into law by Governor Elmer L. Andersen.

The origin of the word loon is uncertain.  Some ornithologists have tried to connect it with the word lummox meaning a clumsy fellow – because on land, the loon is certainly very awkward.