Bird names for girls range from mainstream favorites to names with avian meanings that we barely even realize, to bold rarities that don’t quite seem like names.
But every one of the bird names for girls on this list could work for a daughter, though some might be safer as middles.
They fit in nicely with our passion for word names, particularly those drawn from nature. With Willow and Luna, Lily and Autumn in the current girls’ Top 100, it’s easy to imagine how bird names fit in.
Relatively few of these were in use prior to recent years, at least not in English. But many of them have roots and meaning that go back centuries.
So amateur ornithologists of the world, unite! Let’s explore the rich and varied bird names for girls.
This Top Ten favorite doesn’t necessarily fit with bird names for girls. Except that the Latin avis means bird, and is similar-ish to Ava.
After years in style, Mavis made a quiet comeback. Credit not a bird, but a bat – a vampire bat. It’s the name of the adorable daughter to Count Dracula in the Hotel Transylvania series. But it’s also another name for the song thrush, or in Old French, the mauvis. A late nineteenth century novel introduced the idea of Mavis as a given name, and it became a popular choice in the 1920s and 30s.
Phoebe means bright. The name of a moon goddess in Greek mythology, it’s also the everyday name for a type of bird, native to the Americas.
While Phoenix is more popular for boys, it appears in the girls’ Top 1000, too. While this bird is strictly mythological, it’s served as a powerful symbol of rebirth for millennia.
Big in the 1990s, young actor Raven-Symoné put her nature name on the map. It’s rising again today, both because of our love for nature names and the great middle ‘v’ sound. Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem made the bird literary, but also a little bit dark.
A traditional nickname for Robert, Robin became a Top 100 pick for girls from the 1950s into the 1970s, the age of Susan, Karen, and Sharon. But it can work equally well in the company of Maren, Eden, and Evelyn.
We tend to think of Tori as a Victoria nickname. But in Japanese, Tori can mean bird, depending on the kanji used to write the name, and several other meanings are possible.
The only nature name I’ve ever written on a birth certificate, Wren continues to soar. It entered the US Top 1000 in 2013.
UNEXPECTED BIRD NAMES FOR GIRLS
Lately, Birdie feels like a name to watch. Some raised an eyebrow when actor Busy Philipps welcomed Birdie Leigh in 2008. And Birdie might be short for Elizabeth, Bernadette, or another name with a strong B sound.
Lark seems like a logical choice for a bird-inspired baby name. Mia Farrow chose it all the way back in 1973. Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany welcomed Agnes Lark in 2011.
Parents fell for gender-neutral Merle in the 1910s and 20s. It comes from the Old French word for blackbird, from the Latin merula.
Artist and pacifist Pablo Picasso was the first, but others have followed his lead, giving their daughter the Spanish name for dove. Paloma Picasso became a noted jewelry designer, possibly inspiring more parents.
The large, flightless bird, cousin to the ostrich, might not immediately inspire parents. But Rhea is also a goddess, mother of Zeus himself. The bird was named for the mythological mom in the 1750s.
Intrepid namers Nicole Richie and Joel Madden chose this name for their son, Sparrow James Midnight, but it works just as well for a girl.
TRULY DARING BIRD NAMES FOR GIRLS
This modern Welsh name literally means bird. It shortens easily to Addie.
The French word for skylark feels familiar to many thanks to the children’s song. (Fair warning: the lyrics are all about plucking the bird for roasting.) It’s a pretty sound, with the Lou sound suggesting some easy nickname options.
Like Ava, this name is likely Germanic in origin. But because of the Latin avis, it’s long been associated with birds.
Another Welsh import, Bran means raven, and the -wen comes from gwen – fair.
You might think of a celandine as a flower – and it is! But it derives from the Greek word for a swallow.
A sorceress who tangled with Odysseus on his wanderings, we think of Circe as a powerful sorceress. But the name comes from the Greek kirke – which might have meant bird.
A Late Latin name, Columba referred to the dove, a symbol of holy spirit. Favored by early saints, both male and female, Columba eventually became the (exclusively male) Callum. Colombe in feminine in French.
In Hebrew Dror means sparrow – or freedom – and Drora or Derora is a feminine form.
A very literal bird name with peaceful overtones, Dove might be another of the bird names for girls on the verge of going mainstream.
Another dove name, Jemima comes from Hebrew via the Old Testament. She’s one of Job’s daughters. Puritan parents embraced the name, but in the US today, it’s mostly syrup.
Another literal bird name, a kestrel is a type of falcon. It’s uncommon, but the sound is intriguing.
Laraline comes from 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.
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.
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.
A nightingale name that fits right in with our affection for Lucy and company.
Like some names on this list, it might feel more pratical as a middle name. But Nightingale undeniably belongs with the birds. It’s a hero name, too, thanks to world-changing nurse Florence.
Pavonine describes peacocks, just as feline describes cats. But this could make a gorgeous, daring middle name choice.
In 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.”
From the Sanskrit for myna bird, Sarika seems completely surprising and yet perfectly accessible.
There’s a Sephora selling cosmetics in every shopping mall in America. But Sephora started out as an Old Testament name. It comes from a Hebrew word meaning bird.
Borrowed directly from the birds, it also brings to mind Silence of the Lambs’ unforgettable FBI Agent Clarice Starling.
Twilight’s Bella and Pirates of the Caribbean’s Elizabeth both answer to this surname. And why not? They’re gorgeous birds with a fierce reputation – possibly a winning combination for a daughter’s name. Not into Swan? There are plenty of related names to consider.
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. As a first, it might be too Taylor.
A greenish-blue color, Teal comes from the feathers of a duck.
Another form of Sephora, one that skews closer to the Biblical original, Tzipporah.
Which bird names for girls are missing from this list? Would you consider any of these names for a daughter?
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. Additional updates took place on May 18, 2020.
I knew a family that had a son named Griffin, but for short they just called him Griff. He’s an adorable boy!
My daughter’s name is Mavie which is a Scottish word for a songbird ❤️
Oh how lovely! Thank you for sharing. 🙂
Emma fox says
Great list love your post.
My name is ”Echo”
and i like it.
I named my daughter Larka! Lark just felt a little too short
Yes! My second daughter’s name is Larka. It annoys me that all the online things you search use it as a boys name though, because it sounds so much better as a girls name in my opinion! I have only found a couple sparse websites where it is used as a girls name, usually from Germany and they pronounce it “Lair-ka” because they have the a with the double dot above it. But I liked the Lar-ka pronunciation better so I just stuck with that even though it’s more popular as a boys name
My name is Phoebe Jay!! 🙂
Our first daughter was Lark. I just thought it was a happy easy to remember name for a girl. Then we had Robin. That was easy enough and then it became a thing. Third baby was another girl. We wanted another bird name but some were just too cumbersome. Ultimately we decided on Wren, but where it kind of gives you the idea of tiny and delicate……that girl is a tornado! Mostly everyone calls her Rennie so it’s ok but no more baby birds for me!
Anneke Huyghebaert says
I hate to share this as I love how rare it is, but we are expecting baby #2 in December and won’t know sex until birth but have decided on the name Serin. It’s a family surname which is French apparently and is the name of a bird in Europe. I love the name because it sounds like similar popular names, it’s a bird, and it’s a name in several languages/cultures. I also like that it’s very uncommon when spelled this way. Our daughter is named Fenner which is also a family name and is similar in style. We call her Fen and will use Rin or Rinny as a nickname for the baby.
I believe Evelyn can mean either “little bird” or “beautiful bird” 🙂
Brenan Weidmer says
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")
~ 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.
Claire Shamgochian says
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!
Wren was the name of Keven Bacon’s character in the movie “Footloose”.
Juliana Zalamena says
There is also the Yiddish name “Faigel”, meaning “bird”.
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. 🙂
Araya Hope says
I have a friend named Hawk, and I know a girl named Piper. Very suiting and cute names.
Kim Waggoner says
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:
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.
Christina Fonseca says
Alondra, the Spanish for “lark” is also pretty.
I love this name too!
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. 🙂
If you name your boy Dove, he’ll be humiliated every time he must state his name.
Whatever, Conner. says
I think the thousands of Dovs of Jewish descent prorbably disagree.
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.
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:)
That’s a lovely way to look at it, Dana!
There is a male character named Dove in a book by the title of “Johnny Tremain”, a historical fiction in the children’s literature section, set during the US Revolutionary war. Quite a serious book, and award winning at the time of its publication. The character of Dove is not necessarily a boon to the name, but cements the idea the Dove can most certainly be a masculine name as well.
We went with the name Paloma for my daughter. In addition to the Picasso reference, it is also used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, as in Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist, when a white Dove appeared in that moment. Paloma or Dove can bring a fresh take to more a conservative religious family/ community that the child may be growing up in. My daughter has sure enjoyed this name. There are a number of good nicknames that present themselves with this name also, even if she prefers Paloma.
Oh, I hope you’ll do a list for boys!
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.
I was going to comment this! I loved the name Aderyn since I went to university (in Wales) with a girl of this name. Funnily enough her last name was “Burd” 😀
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?
My husband has a cousin named Salvatore that goes by Tori
I know a Torsten.
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.
C in DC says
I really like many of these names. Paloma is the one I’d be most likely to use.
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.
Arna is also gorgeous.
I never realized I like so many bird names! Ava, Celandine, Jemima, Lark, Mavis, Paloma, Raven, Sephora, Wren.
Don’t forget Phoebe!
I really like many of these. They feel offbeat, but not forced.
I adore bird names, and this is a great list! Swan is also a guilty pleasure of mine.
Charlotte Vera says
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.)
I had the same issue with the post on Dashiell. Only the first few lines show up 🙁
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 love Peregrine.
We are considering Heron for a girl. Curious if anyone has thoughts on that…
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 🙂
Callum, Heron, and Rook are on my list.
Rook! <3 love it!! Sounds masculine to me. I need a boy to name him Rook!!
Love this list 🙂 and isn’t Penelope somehow related to ducks?
I love the name Larka for a girl.
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.
Branwyn is the correct male spelling I believe
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.
I’ve seen babies named Swan, Eagle, and Rook.
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.
I think I’m in love with Dove.