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Virgin Islands - The Seal

Last modified: 2012-03-16 by zoltán horváth
Keywords: virgin islands | seal |
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image from <school.discovery.com>, located by Joe McMillan, 20 September 2001


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Overview

The bird on the Virgin Islands' flag is not an American eagle - it is a bananaquit, a beautiful little warbler native to the Caribbean. See: <www.wbu.com>.
The flag I saw looked like the bananaquit. There is another flag that does look like an eagle
D. Regina Boyd, 24 and 27 September 2008

Every source I have quotes it as being an "American Eagle" (or sometimes "a version of the US arms"), and in all truth it looks like the same eagle (but in gold) to me.
However, is not the bird on the seal of the US Virgin Islands a bananaquit?
Christopher Southworth, 24 September 2008

It is s a "Yellow Breast" according to <www.legvi.org|>: "The present Great Seal of the U.S. Virgin Islands became effective on January 1, 1991. It was designed by Mitch Davis, a native Virgin Islander, and was selected from among 33 other submissions from around the world. The symbols depicted thereon are representative of the three major islands comprising the U.S. Virgin Islands and were chosen for their historical as well as future significance. The sugar mill was chosen for St. Croix because it was the center of agricultural productivity during the early years of the island?s history. Today, St. Croix is the hub of industrial production in the territory, with the Hess Oil Refinery, Martin Marietta Complex and the Industrial Park. The Annaberg ruins on the island of St. John represent that islands?s role in the production of sugar and the slave uprisings. The ruins currently site in the National Park, which is the bastion of preservation in the territory and its environment for the present and into the future. The Legislative Building on the island of St. Thomas represents the seat of government and the capital of the United States Virgin Islands. The two flags being flown are the Dannaberg, which is being lowered, and the U.S. flag. The flags depict the transfer of the islands from Denmark to the United States on March 31, 1917, on the grounds of the Legislature. The boat in the harbor of St. Thomas represents the importance of the islands in interstate and international commerce, from Columbus? discovery of the islands to the present and into the future, with the cruise ship and charter boat industries as well as down island traders.
The motto inscribed on the scroll, "United in Pride and Hope" relates to the fact that the islands are inhabited by varied groups of people of different ethnic, national and religious persuasions and all live together in relative harmony to form one community.
Put the above variables together and you have a seal that represents pride, dignity, history, culture and the natural beauty of the United States Virgin Islands.
The purpose of this design is to instill a sense of pride and dignity in the U.S.V.I. and in our people. Each color which makes up the composition was chosen to exemplify a specific identity to the islands. Working from the outside to the center, the significance of each aspect of the design is described below.
The words "Legislature of the United States Virgin Islands" encircle the seal. The yellow color which borders the seal represents our tropical sun with its brilliant rays beaming down and keeping us warm 365 days a year; the green color of the islands represents the foliage that is ever present and creates our natural beauty; the white trim around the islands represents the white sand that is found on our world-renowned beaches; the blue represents the crystal clear waters which surround our islands and the magnificent blue skies which are seldom cloudy.
In addition, the Yellow Breast, our national bird, with its regal-colored chest is perched on a stem of our national flower, the Yellow Cedar, with three of its fruits, three flowers in bloom, and three leaves, all representing the three major islands. These national symbols were especially selected for the following reasons: 1. they are our legally adopted national symbols; 2. they are easily recognized; and 3. they populate all of the islands."
Jarig Bakker, 24 September 2008

A bananaquit  is a passerine, being the only member of genus Coereba. Local names:  beany bird (Jamaica), honey-creeper (St Vincent, US Virgin Is), see-see bird (Grenada), sikyť-bird (Trinidad), sugar-bird (Barbados, USVI), and yellow-breast (Antigua, Barbados, USVI).
There is a big collection of bananaquit videos on the Internet Bird Collection (a kind of BOTW). There is also a big collection of bananaquit songs at <www.xeno-canto.org>.
Ivan Sache, 24 September 2008

I saw the design of the up-coming Virgin Islands' quarter dollar. I couldn't figure out what the bird, "Yellow Breast" was supposed to be. I saw that the seal also had a similar bird.
Raffaele's "A Guide to the Birds of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands" concurs that the Virgin Islands' local name for the Bananaquit is "Yellows Breast", but neither the quarter dollar nor the seal as shown above looks like one.
The beak is short, looking like a sparrow's beak, not curved and sharply pointed. The throat of the bird on the seal is too light and has a blueish cast rather than gray. At the past, I was convinced it was a (still poorly drawn) warbler in winter plumage.  
Cyril N. Alberga, 1 January 2009