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What is the State Bird of Delaware? (And Why?)

Delaware is the second smallest state by area and the 45th most populous state in the United States. The state geography is mainly level plains, with an abundance of woodland and forests, which are attractive to many wildlife and bird species. The state animal for Delaware is the Grey Fox, but what is the state bird?

The state of Delaware chose the Delaware Blue Hen (Gallus gallus) as the state bird in 1939. The University of Delaware had already adopted the bird as its mascot in 1911, indicating that the bird already experienced great love from the state’s residents. The Delaware Blue Hen is also known as the Blue Hen Chicken.

The state bird for Delaware, the Delaware Blue Hen.

The state bird for Delaware, the Delaware Blue Hen.

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Why is the Delaware Blue Hen the state bird for Delaware?

The bird isn’t a recognized chicken breed, but the residents of Delaware love this hen. It all hearkens back to the Revolutionary War and how a company of Delaware soldiers so reminded their Captain of the fighting offspring of his farm hen that he dubbed them “The Blue Hen’s Chickens” and the “Sons of the Blue Hen.” From the quirky military beginnings of the bird’s place in the heart of Delawareans, the esteem of the bird grew. Centuries passed with this valiant bird becoming the mascot for the state’s university, as well. It’s one tough hen and Delaware loves her. Despite its name, the bird isn’t native to the state. It isn’t even native to the US.

When did the Delaware Blue Hen become the state bird for Delaware?

The State of Delaware legislature adopted the Delaware Blue Hen as state bird on April 14, 1939. Delaware doesn’t share its state bird with any other state.

Delaware Blue Rooster

Delaware Blue Rooster

What does the state bird of Delaware look like?

The Delaware Blue Hen is blue with a bit of black on its throat and neck. The rooster of this species sports a red mohawk and jowls. The females take on a more gray-blue color to their feathers, while the rooster appears bright blue. Chicks appear in three color varieties – blue, black, and splash.

These birds weigh a little less than your typical chicken for eating. The males typically weigh five pounds while the females weigh about four pounds, says A-Z Animals. They have a wingspan of about 17.7 to 23.6 inches.

Delaware Blue Hen

Delaware Blue Hen

How do these birds behave?

The blue strain of the American gamecock, this flighty, skittish bird lays brown eggs that you can eat. These birds weren’t originally farm animals though. Initially, the Delaware Blue Hen was bred for cockfighting. That pursuit has been outlawed in Delaware, but it still provides the historical beginnings of the fierce bird.

You might want to have a large flock, but you will need to keep the roosters separately from one another. Once they reach the age of maturity – sexual maturity – the males of this species cannot live in the same yard. You can fence off the larger flock into mini-flocks, but you cannot keep the roosters in the same yard because they will fight with one another. The reason blue hens did so well in cockfighting stems from their natural aggression. Two males around one another fight naturally.

A group of blue hen females will willingly share a rooster. They feed in peace and lay eggs of medium-sized brown.

If you visit Asia, where chickens come from, specifically India, you see that in nature, these avian choose to live in small flocks. They choose to live with one rooster to one to four hens. In nature, a rooster may only choose one hen, but commonly has more than one hen with whom he procreates. He has competition, too. One or two subordinate roosters follow the flock in close proximity, in case they’re needed. Younger males live in small groups of two to four males until they grow old enough to breed. In spring, breeding age hens go off to nest on their own. She lays a clutch of three to seven eggs, which she incubates. She raises her children on her own. In the wild, these animals choose to live with one flock every 12.5 miles.

Close up of a Delaware Blue Hen

Close up of a Delaware Blue Hen

Do Delaware Blue Hens form communities?

The Delaware Blue Hen forms a flock family of many females to one male. They don’t really live in the wild. If you want to purchase these chickens, buy a few females, but only one rooster. While the chicks they create are small, he will have no problem with them, but as soon as they near sexual maturity, you will need to separate those younger males out and place each of them alone in his own flock. One male and many females work with these Delaware Blue Hens. Their gamecock beginnings come out as soon as the males age and the father will try to attack and kill his own youngsters because it is in their nature to fight for their territory to the death.

What do Delaware Blue Hens eat?

Delaware Blue Hens dine on what you feed them, and that differs depending on your needs. The nutritional information for these animals comes from guidelines for gamecocks. Gamefowl eats a bit differently than farm chickens. These animals need more protein than typical farm chickens. You should create a diet for them that consists of between 17 to 19 percent of crude protein. Roosters may enjoy a diet of up to 22 percent crude protein.

The feed you choose should also contain a high amount of amino acids. Look for a mix of grains consisting of corn, wheat, oat groats, jockey oats, and mixed grains, including taplians, lupins, peas, safflower, barley, and beans. You may also include egg whites and beef in their diet as well as specially treated milk. Since chickens and gamefowl lack the lactase enzyme to break down lactose, you need to help them by fermenting the milk for them, so it comes in a format that already has the lactose broken down into a simpler format. Mix ½ part lactic acid bacteria pure culture with ½ part fresh milk to do this.

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