In 1954, a state bird election was conducted in the state of Rhode Island. It was sponsored by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, the Providence Journal Company and the Rhode Island Federation of Garden Clubs.
Among the contenders for official state bird of Rhode Island were the osprey and the ruby-throated hummingbird. You may wonder now what bird emerged as the winner and what is the state bird of Rhode Island?
The Rhode Island red chicken bested all the other contenders and since then became the symbolic Rhode Island state bird.
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Quick Facts about the State Bird of Rhode Island
The common name of this bird is Rhode Island Red Chicken, and its scientific name is Gallus gallus domesticus.
Some of his distinct traits that help you recognize them are:
- Skin Color: Yellow
- Egg: Brown
- Comb type: Single/Rose
- Male: 3.9 kg (Standard)
- 965 g (Bantam)
- Female: 3 kg (Standard)
- 850g (Bantam)
What to Know About the Rhode Island Red Chicken
The Rhode Island red chicken is classified by the American Poultry Association as an American breed of domestic chicken.
Its origins are from the said state and were developed as a result of cross-breeding oriental birds such as the Malay, Java, and Cochin with the brown leghorn originally from Italy to produce the ideal hen.
The Rhode Island red hen and rooster were raised mainly for a practical purpose because of their generous meat and the hen’s amazing capacity to lay eggs. The female can produce as many as 200-300 eggs every year.
Currently, both the single comb variety and rose comb variety are admitted to the standard of the American Poultry Association. The bantam Rhode Island red of both varieties, single and rose comb, are also listed in the standard-bred fowls of the same association.
The History of the Rhode Island Red
The Rhode Island Red was bred in Rhode Island and in Massachusetts in the late nineteenth century. The first person credited for successfully breeding this kind of chicken was William Trip.
He acquired a Malay rooster from another sailor and began mating this with his American breed of hens. He then partnered with his friend, John Macomber, and they both started breeding successfully a progeny of chickens that have superior egg-laying qualities.
It earned the nickname “Trip’s fowl” or some would call the breed “Macomber”. Sadly, even if Trip and Macomber were the first to do successful breeding, the naming of the breed as Rhode Island Red is credited to Isaac Wilbour. He was as successful as the two in cross-breeding and producing Rhode Island reds.
Characteristics of the Rhode Island Red
- The Rhode Island red has a plumage ranging from the color of mahogany to rust-colored. Because the Rhode Island red origin is from the Malay breed the feathers are considered hard.
- The wings and tail may have smatterings of black feathers which is still considered common among this breed.
- The color of the comb, wattles and earlobes should be red. The color of the skin is yellow, as well as the color of the feet. The comb you usually see in pictures of the bird is single and upright, a rose-comb may also be seen in some varieties.
- These birds of Rhode Island exist in the standard weight of 3.9 kg for roosters and 3 kg for the hen. Bantam weights also exist but are less popular for poultry breeders.
2. Egg-laying habits
A Rhode Island red chicken can lay as many as 300 brown eggs per year. That’s why this is a favorite breed among poultry owners because the hen is so prolific in laying eggs.
As early as 16-18 weeks old, the Rhode Island red hen can already start laying eggs. It can produce as many as 5-6 medium-large size brown eggs per week.
As the hen gets more mature, the size of the eggs also increases every year, which is very advantageous for breeders. Good quality and a good quantity of eggs!
Rhode Island reds are not only a favorite in its home state but also in other states. Farms as far as Colorado breed these kinds of chickens for selling and for the dual purpose of supplying meat and eggs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the Rhode Island red the state bird?
The Rhode Island red was selected as the state bird during an election. It bested other birds and was chosen as the state bird drawing attention as the official symbol of Rhode Islanders wherever they may be.
When did the Rhode Island Chicken become the state bird?
It became the official state bird in 1954 after it was chosen during an election.
How do these birds behave?
Most breeders would describe this breed as friendly and easy to keep in their backyards. The females are usually docile but the males can be noisy and aggressive.
What are the other state symbols of Rhode Island?
Other notable state symbols of Rhode Island are their state drink which is called “coffee milk” and the state marine animal, the harbor seal which was adopted in 2016.
The state tree is the red maple and the state seal can be seen in pictures with an anchor in the middle with the words “hope” as the motto that comes with it.
Is Rhode Island really an island?
No, Rhode Island is not an island. It is the smallest of the 50 states in terms of land area.
Its northern and eastern border is Massachusetts and, in the west, it is bordered by Connecticut. It shares a maritime border with New York state in the south.
The Rhode Island Red is an interesting and unique bird, historically speaking and in terms of its breed. It’s no surprise why it has become the symbolic bird of the state of Rhode Island.
When someone asks you one of these days the question, “What is the state bird of Rhode Island?”, you will definitely have more to say than just the name of the bird but a few more facts about this remarkable American breed after reading this article.
George and I became friends after a birdwatching trip with our new group. And we have been enjoying every adventure together. When he told me the idea of establishing a site that shares our experiences and fun, I immediately agreed. After trials and errors, here we have Thayerbirding.