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The Liver bird is the symbol of the city of Liverpool, England.

The word "liver" in the name of the bird rhymes with "driver", rather than sounding like first two syllables of the city's name (which is pronounced as in the body organ).


he bird's species has long been the subject of confusion and controversy.

The earliest known use of a bird to represent the then town of Liverpool is on its corporate seal, dating from the 1350s, which is now in the British Museum. The bird shown is generic, but the wording of the seal contains references to King John, who granted the town’s charter in 1207. John, in honour of his patron saint, frequently used the device of an eagle - long associated with St. John. Further indication that the seal was an homage to King John is found in the sprig of broom initially shown in the bird’s beak, broom being a symbol of the royal family of Plantagenet.

By the 17th century, the origins of the bird had begun to be forgotten, with references to the bird as a cormorant, still a common bird in the coastal waters near Liverpool. The Earl of Derby in 1668 gifted the town council a mace "engraved with ...a leaver" - the first known reference to a liver bird by this name. A manual on heraldry from later in the century confuses matters further by assuming this term is related to the Dutch word lefler, meaning spoonbill - a bird rarely found in northern England.

When the College of Arms granted official arms to Liverpool in 1797, they refer to the bird as a cormorant, adding that the sprig in the mouth is of laver, a type of seaweed, thus implying that the bird's appellation comes from the sprig.

The bird thus appears to have originally been intended to be an eagle, but is now officially a cormorant. Many modern interpretations of the symbol are of a cormorant, although several - notably that on the emblem of Liverpool Football Club distinctly show the short head and curved beak more readily associated with a bird of prey.

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