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The Delaware General Assembly adopted as Delaware state bird on April 14, 1939, the Blue Hen chicken, (Gallus gallus,) which had long been used as a motif in numerous political campaigns and in many publications.
During the Revolutionary War, the men of Captain Jonathan Caldwell's company, recruited in Kent County, took with them game chickens that were said to be of the brood of a famous Blue Hen and were noted for their fighting ability. When not fighting the enemy, the officers and men amused themselves by pitting their Blue Hen chickens in cockfights. The fame of these cockfights spread throughout the army and when in battle, the Delaware men fought so valiantly that they were compared to these fighting cocks.
Blue Hen Chicken is native to Southern Asia, particularly the jungles of India. Gallus gallus spread all over the world when people domesticated the chicken. This account primarily discusses the wild species (Philips 1999, Stevens 1991, Peterson and Brisbin 1999)
The Delaware state bird, the Blue Hen Chicken, is a domestic bird (chicken) and therefore has no place in Audubon's Birds of America, which is comprised exclusively of wild birds native to North America. In fact, the "Blue Hen Chicken" is not a recognized breed and its selection as the state bird relates to historical events more than to a natural association of the bird with the state of Delaware.
Blue Hen Chicken, (Gallus gallus,) plumage is gold, red, brown, dark maroon, orange, with a bit of metallic green and gray. There are also some white and olive feathers. Two white patches, shaped like an ear, appear on either side of the head. Gallus gallus can be distinguish from other chickens not only by these white patches, but also by the grayish feet. The red jungle fowl can measure up to 70 centimeters in length. They have a total of fourteen tail feathers. Blue Hen Chicken rooster tails can be almost 28 centimeter in length.
The red jungle fowl rooster is said to be more brilliantly colored that its tame relative. During June to October, G. gallus molts into an eclipse plumage. An eclipse plumage is, for male, black long feather across the middle of his back and slender red-orange plumes on the rest of his body. For a female, an eclipse plumage cannot be distinguished, but she does molt. The female red jungle fowl is leaner than tame hens. (North and Bell 1990, Ponnampalam 2000, Stevens 1991, Peterson and Brisbin 1999)
The blue hen chicken has blue chest feathers and blue tail feathers. The feathers above its bare legs are white. The neck feathers are orange, yellow or brown, while the back feathers are primarily black. The Delaware blue hen chicken has a classic and prominent red crown. About only half the chicks of blue hens will have blue fathers; the rest will be black or a mixture of black and white. Male Delaware blue hen chickens weigh around five pounds , while females weigh about four pounds. They have yellow beaks and reddish eyes.
The Delaware blue hen chickens lay brown eggs. Because they were bred for cockfighting first, they are wary and erratic.
They have a small single comb that has five points that stand upright. They have small, thin, smooth wattles and earlobes. All of these are bright red. The Combs, earlobes, and wattles are dubbed (cut off) in roosters for show.
They have a yellow beak, reddish bay eyes, and willow shanks and toes. The head, hackle, cape, and saddle can be in shades of yellow and orange. The front neck, lower body,
The law designating the Delaware blue hen chicken as the official Delaware state bird is Section 304 (State bird) of the Delaware Code, Title 29 (State Government) Chapter 3 (STATE SEAL, SONG, AND SYMBOLS) Section 304.
TITLE 29 - State Government.
PART 1 - General Provisions.
CHAPTER 3. STATE SEAL, SONG, AND SYMBOLS.
S304. State bird.
The "blue hen chicken" is the official bird of the State.
(42 Del. Laws, c. 128; 29 Del. C. 1953, S 504.)
Taxonomic Hierarchy: Blue Hen Chicken
Kingdom: Animalia - animals
Phylum: Chordata - chordates
Subphylum: Vertebrata - vertebrates
Class: Aves - birds
Order: Galliformes - fowls, gallinaceous birds
Family: Phasianidae --
Genus: Gallus --
Species: Gallus gallus - chicken