Pokémon: Every Regional Bird, Ranked – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Every Pokémon region features an early-game bird Pokémon, but some regions did this trope better than others.
While each new Pokémon game introduces new mechanics, Pokémon, and regions to keep the franchise fresh, they also often build on traditions and tropes established early on in the franchise's history. These tropes help keep the games familiar and give fans something to look forward to in each release. One of these traditions, going all the way back to Generation I, is the regional bird.
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In every new Pokémon region, there is a part Flying type Pokémon that can be found in one of the first areas. These Pokémon help players fill out their teams with something other than a starter straight away and often evolve into powerful enough forms to be able to hold their own. While the regional birds don't tend to be anyone's absolute favorite Pokémon, they are well-beloved by fans and help to make their respective regions feel unique.
The regional birds from Alola form a somewhat confusing evolutionary line. Pikipiek, with its long, sharp beak, black and white color scheme, and red-tufted head bears a striking resemblance to a pileated woodpecker. In fact, its species name is "the Woodpecker Pokémon." Trumbeak still looks a lot like a woodpecker, but it feels like it is moving towards some kind of more fantastical Pokémon design as it evolves. Toucannon is, as its name suggests, based on a toucan. Unfortunately, it looks too much like a real-life, mundane toucan to be very exciting at all. Its design is barely even stylized, making it a disappointing missed opportunity in a franchise full of bizarre imaginary animals.
The regional bird from Johto, Pokémon's second region, is arguably more responsible for starting the trend than the one from the first Generation. Noctowl's presence helped cement the fact that every Generation from then on would have a Pokémon like this. Unfortunately, Noctowl doesn't do quite enough to stand out. It has some interesting lore behind it and its nickname "the emperor of dark nights" makes it seem super cool, but at the end of the day, it's just another Normal/Flying type with middling stats and a decent design.
The first phase of this evolutionary line is clearly modeled after a swallow, a breed of exceptionally fast and agile birds. Swellow becomes a lot larger and clearly more predatory than its previous evolution, potentially being based on the swallow-tailed kite.
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The Swellow line brushes dangerously close to the problem with the Toucannon line in that they sort of just look like regular, real life birds. But Taillow and Swellow manage to avoid this problem by having a bright blue and red color scheme and a design that just unique enough to feel at home in the Pokémon world.
The regional bird from Sinnoh is one of the more popular, given new life recently thanks to Starly's omnipresence in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. The evolution from Starly to Staravia to Staraptor is a great example of a Pokémon that comes from humble beginnings eventually becoming a fearsome battler. This is, in many ways, what the regional bird trope is all about. These creatures evolve slower than the Bug types trainers will find early on in their journey, but usually faster than the trainer's starter. This helps spread out the rate of progression and give players a real sense that their team is growing and changing as they battle. Staraptor's high Attack and Speeds stats mean it is strong enough to hold its own all the way up to the Elite Four.
Like Pikipek, Pidove totally changes what kind of bird it is based on as it evolves. Pidove, as its name suggests, is clearly reminiscent of a dove. Its final form Unfezant, however, resembles a grouse or pheasant, with long tail feathers and large legs for running. Tranquill manages to be a perfect middle ground between these seemingly very different designs, allowing the transition to happen naturally.
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Unfezant stands out from the other regional birds because it displays sexual dimorphism, with male Unfezantt having a green underbelly and red mask around their face, while females are slightly more plain in appearance with a brown underbelly. This kind of variance is seen regularly in birds, and it is very cool to see it translated to the Pokémon universe in this way.
The regional bird that started it all, the Pidgey line is, in many ways, a perfect example of how to design Pokémon based on animals. Though its English name vaguely hints at it being a pigeon, it bears little resemblance to these birds. Pidgey, Pidgeotto, and Pidgeot don't really look like any real-life birds, but they still manage to look incredibly mundane in a fun way. They really feel like wild animals in the Pokémon world in a way that lots of other Pokémon don't manage to pull off.
Galar's regional bird had the distinction of being the first nonlegendary pure Flying type Pokémon in the entire series. Rookidee and Corvisquire have a great blue and yellow color scheme that makes them look somewhat like real birds but clearly hints at their more bizarre future evolution.
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Corviknight gains the Steel typing upon evolving, and is only the second regional bird not the be a Normal/Flying type. Corviknight is essential to the infrastructure and design of Galar, as it is used as a primary means of transportation in the region. Getting to see a regional bird play an integral role in the game's region is refreshing, and Corviknight deserves it.
Fletchling, or the Tiny Robin Pokémon, starts life looking much like any other regional bird might. However, as its name might suggest, it quickly gains the Fire type upon evolving into Fletchinder, and eventually becomes the exceptionally powerful and popular Talonflame. Easily the strongest regional bird for competitive play, Talonflame has become one of the most popular Pokémon not just of its generation but of all time. Its presence in Pokémon Unite has only boosted its popularity. Talonflame set the bar high for what regional birds can and should be, a bar that no bird since has managed to soar over.
Declan is a writer for Comic Book Resources and an independent game designer. They’ve been playing video and tabletop games since childhood and continue that love today. Check them out on Twitter here