The Great Big List of Bird Names for Girls


Bird Names for Girls

This post was originally posted on July 6, 2012. It was substantially revised and re-posted on October 2, 2015 with a very happy seventh birthday to my daughter, Claire Caroline Wren – usually known as Clio, and sometimes Wren Bird.

Amateur ornithologists of the world, unite!

There are dozens of bird names for girls.  Some are mainstream favorites, while others are bold – maybe even too bold to be given names. But every one of the bird names for girls on this list could work, if only in the middle spot.

Bird Names for Girls: The Mainstream

Ava – Is she or isn’t she? This Top Ten favorite doesn’t really fit with bird names for girls. Except that the Latin avis means bird, and is similarish to Ava. The name ranked #4 in the US in 2014.

Phoebe – Phoebe means bright, and it was the name of a moon goddess in Greek mythology. But it’s also the everyday name for a type of bird, native to the Americas. Currently ranked #298.

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Raven – Raven was big in the 1990s, when young actress Raven-Symoné was first in the spotlight. She went on to star on the Disney Channel’s That’s So Raven from 2003 to 2007, but the name faded. It’s made a little bit of a comeback in recent years, possibly because of our affection for bird names for girls, and maybe because of other pop culture uses. Charlize Theron wore the name in 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman, and since 2013, Mattel’s Ever After High series has included a character named Raven Queen. The Edgar Allan Poe poem takes Raven in a darker, almost gothic direction.

Robin – As a masculine nickname for Robertthis name is traditional rather than from-the-trees. But it became a Top 100 pick for girls from the 1950s into the 1970s, the age of Susan, Karen, and Sharon. In recent years, Robin has trended upwards for boys and girls alike. While it’s on the list of bird names for girls, I think Robin might feel fresher for a boy.

Tori – Tori is often considered a nickname for the regal Victoria. But in Japanese, tori can mean bird. Though, as with many Japanese names, the meaning ultimately depends on the kanji used to write the name, and several other meanings are possible.

Bird Names for Girls: The Unexpected

Birdie – Busy Phillips – born Elizabeth Jean – welcomed Birdie Leigh in 2008. Birdie can be short for Elizabeth, Bernadette, Barbara, or another traditional name with a strong B sound. But it works independently, too. I’ve also come across Bird – just Bird – especially in the middle spot.


Bird Names for Girls

Lark – Mia Farrow and Andre Previn gave this name to a daughter back in 1973, but it was the 2011 arrival of Agnes Lark, daughter of Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany, that helped put Lark in the spotlight.

Mavis – After years in fashion limbo, but Mavis is making a quiet comeback.  The bird is better known as the song thrush in English; in Old French, the word was mauvis.  A late nineteenth century novel introduced the idea of Mavis as a given name, and it was a popular choice in the 1920s and 30s.

Merle – The gender-neutral Merle was in favor in the 1910s and 20s.  Merle is almost certainly derived from Muriel via a surname, but it is also the Old French word for blackbird, from the Latin merula.


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Paloma – Actor and pacifist Pablo Picasso was the first.  Now David Caruso and Ana Ortiz both have daughters named Paloma.  Salma Hayek’s little girl is Valentina Paloma.  The Spanish word for dove has found favor with American parents in recent years, but remains nicely under-used at #869 in 2014.

Phoenix – While Phoenix is more popular for boys, it has also charted in the US Top 1000 for girls every year since 2003. While there’s no real life bird called the phoenix, it’s been a powerful symbol of rebirth for millennia, and many cultures have a phoenix-like bird in their traditional stories.

Rhea – A rhea is a large, flightless bird, cousin to the ostrich. That’s not necessarily an inspiring image for a daughter’s name, but Rhea is also a goddess, mother of Zeus himself. The bird was named after the goddess in the 1750s and stuck. Rhea refers to the ground, and as the bird doesn’t fly, it seemed fitting.

Wren – The only avian name I’ve ever written on a birth certificate, and one that is undeniably on the upswing. Wren entered the US Top 1000 in 2013, and climbed to #703 this year.

Bird Names for Girls: The Truly Daring

Aderyn – One of my favorites!  This modern Welsh name literally means bird.  Emphasis is on the middle syllable, but you could certainly shorten this one to Addie, too.

Alouette – The French word for skylark, familiar to many thanks to the children’s song. A word of warning: “Alouette” is no lullaby. The lyrics are all about catching the lark and plucking its feathers, the better to roast the bird. Still, I think it would make a pretty and unexpected name for a girl, or a great, bold middle name choice.

Avis – Like Ava, this name probably isn’t originally among the bird names for girls. Instead, Avis is likely Germanic in origin. But because of the Latin avis meaning bird, it’s long been associated with avian names. Actor Daniel Baldwin gave this name to a daughter in 2008.

Branwen – Another Welsh import, and one of the more subtle avian names for girls.  Bran means raven, and the -wen comes from gwen – fair. There’s a Branwen in Welsh myth.

Celandine – She’s a two-for-one nature name. A celandine is a flower, but it derives from the Greek word for a swallow.

Circe – Circe was a sorceress who tangled with Odysseus on his wanderings, so that’s probably what comes to mind for many. But Circe probably comes from the Greek kirke – which might have meant bird.

Columba – The name developed in Late Latin, and was worn by men and women – we’ve got the saints to prove it.  Columba comes from the Latin for dove.

Derora – The Hebrew masculine name Dror means sparrow, and Drora or Derora is a feminine form.

Dove – A very literal bird name with peaceful overtones.

Jemima – Yet another dove name, from Hebrew via the Old Testament this time – she’s one of Job’s daughters.  Jemima found favor with Puritan parents, but in the US today, she’s mostly syrup.

Kestrel – Another literal bird name, this time a type of falcon.  Kestrel isn’t common, but her sound is intriguing.


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Laraline – Laraline is a Latin word meaning seagull. It doesn’t have much history as a given name, but like many of the other rarities on this list, it could wear well.

Linnet – A linnet is a type of finch. Linnet might also be a form of Lynette, which could be a form of Welsh myth’s Eluned, or possibly a nickname for Lynne.

Loa – In English, the bird is called a golden plover – and I’d guess that Plover is a non-starter as a given name. Loa is the bird’s name in Icelandic. Sound-wise, it falls somewhere between Lola and Noa, and could wear surprisingly well.

Luscinia – A nightingale name that fits right in with our affection for Lucy and company. Technically, Luscinia is the genus that includes the nightingale, as well as several related birds.

Philomela – In a gory Greek myth, Philomela was turned into a nightingale, and that’s what her name means. It comes from the Greek words for “love” and “song.” You could also use Nightingale, especially in the middle spot.

Sarika – From the Sanskrit for myna bird – a thoroughly exotic, and yet completely accessible choice.

Sephora – A major chain of cosmetics stores found in nearly every mall in America, and yet she’s also an Old Testament appellation.  Sephora is a simplified form of Tzipporah, the wife of Moses.  It comes from a Hebrew word meaning bird.

Sparrow – Intrepid namers Nicole Richie and Joel Madden chose this name for their son, Sparrow James Midnight, but I think it works just as well for a girl.

Starling – Borrowed directly from the bird, a creature found in nearly every corner of the Earth.  Clarice Starling was the FBI agent from the Silence of the Lambs, a role for which Jodi Foster scored a Best Actress Oscar.  It lends some backbone to a fanciful name.


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Swan – It’s a surname worn by two famous fictional heroines – Twilight’s Bella and Pirates’ Elizabeth.  Swans are also lovely birds with a fierce reputation – not a bad combination for a daughter’s name. Not into Swan? There are plenty of related names to consider.

Swift – This sounds like an active name, and indeed, the 100 or so species of swifts are among the fastest-flying birds in the world. The adjective came first – it’s from Old English. It could be an intriguing middle name possibility.

Teal – It’s a greenish-blue color, but the color came from a duck. The Eurasian teal has distinctive bluish-green markings. As a girl’s name, there’s no reason Teal couldn’t share the same playground as Scarlett and Ivy.

Zipporah – Another form of Sephora, one that skews closer to the Biblical original.

Which bird names for girls are missing from this list?  Would you consider any of these names for a daughter?

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55 Comments

I tend to like really unusual bird names (no surprise there for those who know my naming style at all haha), like my favorite bird name of all time for a girl is definitely Kiskadee <3 Which I would 100% use except I'm concerned about the "kiss" sound at the beginning. I also love:

~ Capercaillie (which doubles as a Scottish band name which for me is a plus =D)
~ Sparrow (this one's my #2 favorite girls name right now with the nickname "Ro")
~ Avocet
~ Ptarmigan
~ Lark
~ Meadowlark
~ Skylark
~ Songlark
~ Raven
~ Swift (middle name only)

I also like making up "lark" names, so I have Winterlark, Summerlark, and Larksong on my favorites list too, though I'd be most likely to use those as middle names :3 Circe is a name that would almost certainly be in my top five for girls right now…except that I do NOT want my future daughter being connected in any way to Cersei from Game of Thrones. Out of every name ever used and ruined by anything, this is the one I'm most sad about T_T But me having kids is still a ways off as I'm not yet married, so who knows. Maybe GoT will have calmed down enough by then that the Greek origin will be what people think of first.

You forgot Phoebe! And Jay! I am actually looking for names for some pet rats I am getting, and I am thinking of naming them after birds because the three other rats I have had were named after birds. There was Phoebe Jay, Wren Phoebe, and Lark Phoenix. For the new ones I am thinking Chickadee (another name I think could work for a human girl) Wren, and Magpie (I don’t have a second name yet, or maybe I might use Oriole. I don’t know. But there are 5 names you didn’t have on your list that I think could work: Phoebe, Jay, Chickadee, Magpie, and Oriole.

I adore bird names, though I’m not sure why as I’m not a huge bird fan. Sparrow is one of my absolute faves! I’m saddened to think I may never get a partner to agree to the names I love, so I hope someone can use them! Dove, Lark, Paloma, and Mavis are also favorites of mine, and I just added Aderyn and Loa. Kestrel and Laraline seem really cool, but not sure I’d use them firsts though! Alouette I’m on the fence on.

My sons name is Wren! I was called to it seconds after his birth – and it wasn’t even on our final list. (I think) it’s a wonderful name for either sex!

It is a great name for a boy, too, Ina – it always reminds me of Lawrence, which is an impeccable classic. Thank you for the reminder!

I named my first daughter Kestrel (we call her Kessie for short) and my second daughter Rosella (of course, Rosie). We love their names, and the birds they represent are beautiful, just like they are. 🙂

Starling! I think I might be obsessed. Do you know the Mary Oliver poem Starlings in Winter? It ends with some of my favorite lines:

I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

I love Dove–but for a boy. I LOVE Birdie for a girl. If I’d had a different husband I could totally see myself with girls named Birdie and Queenie. Now, what I would have named the other five I’m not so sure. 🙂

First, my apologies for not spotting Conner’s comment. Second, you’re absolutely right. Dov has legitimate roots and history galore as a masculine name. There’s no hardship in giving this one to a boy.

Robin, Jay, Piper, Dee — Anything weirder than that and you risk giving your child a name that is a source of great discomfort. “Peregrine, Bluebird, Nightingale” Really?? … Can you imagine being an awkward child and having to state that as your name?

I personally think Dove make a great unisex name, though I personally prefer it for a girl! If i met a guy named Dove, I would assume he’s awesome and hat maybe he brought his parents peace:)

Great list! My favorites include Nightingale, Swan, & Starling.

Other bird names for girls I like include Ptarmigan, Ibis, Trueswift (true and swift), Cullum (surname meaning dove, peace), Honeyguide, Sanderling, Bluebird, Twite, and Turtledove, to name but a few.

Aderyn is one I love a lot. My partner is of primarily Welsh descent and he wants to use a name to honor that. It’s hard to find something that we can both pronounce, that we can agree on a pronunciation for (I like traditional, he likes to simplify/Americanize), and that we both like. Aderyn is on the short list!

I also have a cousin with Teal as a middle. Her two sisters’ have Rose and Jade for middles.

My sister considered Aderyn for one of my nieces! With a nickname of Rynna. But her surname is one of those that you can’t spell if you hear it, and you can’t pronounce if you see it, and I informed her that, in my professional capacity, I wouldn’t allow her to name her child that. 🙂 In the end, they went with Rinnah, which is just as lovely, and easier to spell!

Tori Avalon was the Americanized name of a character in the Japanese anime Cardcaptors.

His original name was Toya Kinomoto, not a stretch but knowing tori is a Japanese words help it make sense.

I’ve been wondering how they came up with it for years, its not usually thought of as a male name, plus its nicknamey….

What would be a full name for it besides Victor, Thor, Thorence, Torrent, or various Torins?

I had Teal on my list for a while (as in the duck AND the colour).
Had a brief liking for Feather and Finch as guilty pleasure names.
I also really like Piper.

There are lots of Icelandic bird names (yes, I like to bring the Icelandic names!). My favourite for a girl is Lóa (a beach bird). We nearly named our second daughter that, but decided against as it sounds a bit matchy with our first daughter’s name.

For girls there’s also Kria (the arctic tern), Svala (swallow), Hrefna (raven), Erla (not sure of the name in English!), Ugla (owl), Arna (eagle?), and Svana (swan).

For boys we have Örn, Ari (both mean eagle), Haukur (hawk), Hrafn, Krummi (both mean Raven), Svanur (swan), Eiður (the eider duck, I think).

Not many of these are usable in English, but Loa or Kria might work. 🙂

Svala is pretty too. I think you could get away with it in the US, especially right now when people are familiar with Sv- sounds from Sven from Frozen.

I never realized I like so many bird names! Ava, Celandine, Jemima, Lark, Mavis, Paloma, Raven, Sephora, Wren.

I liked a lot more of these than I thought I would — always a pleasant surprise!

By the way, I was trying to read up on some of your older articles to compare what they have to say with this list http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/132523 (e.g. Arizona, the infamous Florida), but only the first few lines of the articles are readable. Is this glitch an aspect of my computer/browser, or does it still have to do with the movement of your site?

(Hmm, I just clicked on Zipporah and had the same issue.)

Nope, that’s me not you – much of the blog content came over as stubs and I’ve been manually importing them, ten or so at a time as I find the pockets of problems. I’m also fixing the ones that are specifically pointed out. If you see one, it would help if you’d take a sec and add a quick comment – it makes it easier to find the next area to attack! 🙂

I really like Heron. I think of the great blue heron, such a beautiful and graceful bird. Heron has a masculine sound, although it also brings Hera to mind (the goddess of women and marriage). Overall I think it could work as a first name by I LOVE it as a middle.

I think I could get behind Heron. As a middle, stunning. As a first? Yeah. Why not? It’s not so different than Karen. Factor in the popularity of Harper and Harlow and I think that sound is perfectly wearable for a girl, and nicely distinctive at the same time. Great addition to the list!

We used Adler as one of our son’s middle names because Adler is the German word for the bird of prey “eagle”. We liked the connection to nature/birds (my husband is an avid bird watcher) and the less aggressive sound (when compared to Hawk or Talon etc.) Another name I love for a boy is Peregrine. Great list 🙂

One of the biggest ironies of my life is that my name means bird and I’m ornithophobic. Still, it’s nice to see my name up there. I really like most of the names on the list, especially Starling, Wren and Lark. Celandine is certainly interesting, though.

Byrd is a family surname for me, and it’s number one on my list for a girl’s middle name. I also like the idea of using birds as a nursery theme, since it’s a theme that can go from boy to girl to boy and back again.

My niece’s middle name is Kestrel and I adore it! It might be a harder first name to wear but it suits her perfectly in the middle spot. They are the smallest bird of prey and the name kestrel means “rattle” which refers to their cry.