Delaware Blue Hen
|Nicknames||Blue Hen's Chicken|
|Country of origin||United States of America|
|Weight||Male: 5 lb.|
|Female: 4 lb.|
|State Bird of Delaware|
The Delaware Blue Hen is a landrace variety of chicken that was adopted by the Delaware General Assembly on April 14, 1939 as the state bird of Delaware. It is one of only three U.S. state birds that is not a species native to the United States.
While it is not a currently recognized chicken breed, the fame of the Blue Hen can be traced back to the American Revolutionary War: Colonel John Haslet's 1st Delaware Regiment (later the 198th Signal Battalion), which reported for duty near the outset of the war in January 1776, were nicknamed "the Blue Hen's Chickens," though they were more commonly known as "the Fighting Delawares."
Within the regiment, the second company was composed of men from Kent County and was under the command of Capt. John Caldwell, who was an avid fan and owner of gamecocks. The troops often amused themselves by staging cock fights with a variety known as the Kent County blue hen, recognizable for its blue plumage. The renown of these chickens spread rapidly during the time when cock fighting was a popular form of amusement, and the "blue hen's chickens" developed quite a reputation for ferocity and fighting success.
Caldwell's company likewise acquired a considerable reputation for its own fighting prowess. In August 1780, the surviving Delaware units were joined with the Maryland regiment in a brigade, and Captain Robert Kirkwood, the senior remaining Delaware officer, was in charge of Delaware's then-battalion, and he acquired the nickname "Blue Hen" as well.
The nickname for the sports teams at the University of Delaware is the Blue Hens. (Some students refer to the teams as the "Ass Kickin' Chickens!") The University of Delaware mascot, known as YoUDee, is also modeled after the bird. The University of Delaware's College of Agriculture & Natural Resources maintains a breeding group of the Blue Hen Chicken on the campus farm.
- Sammelwitz, Dr. Paul H., "The Delaware Blue Hen: Fact and Fancy," University of Delaware Department of Animal Science and Agricultural Biochemistry. http://www.udel.edu/research/kids/challenge/bluehenimages/bluehenfactsheet.pdf
- Federal Writers Project Delaware: A Guide to the First State, page 48.
- Ekarius, Carol (2007). Storey's Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds. 210 MAS MoCA Way, North Adams MA 01247: Storey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58017-667-5.
- University of Delaware