Optics Mag is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Read more.

What Is Rhode Island’s State Bird? How Was It Decided?

Last Updated on

Rhode Island Red Chicken on the grass

Learning about the different state birds can be educational and even fun. Some states share their state bird, while others, like Rhode Island, have something unique. The Rhode Island state bird is the Rhode Island Red, a type of chicken. Keep reading as we dive into this topic to see when, why, and how the Rhode Island Red won the title of state bird of the Ocean State.

owl divider 2

When Did the Rhode Island Red Chicken Become the Rhode Island State Bird?

The Rhode Island Red Chicken became the state bird of Rhode Island on May 3, 1954. It won out over the Rhode Island Hen, which had a legislator backing it. Other birds that were considered included the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird and the Towhee.

rhode island red chicken looking for food
Image Credit: VutTH, Shutterstock

Why Is the Rhode Island Red Chicken the Rhode Island State Bird?

The Rhode Island Red Chicken had more votes than the Rhode Island Hen, so it won the title of state bird. It was likely so popular because it has a calm and friendly nature that makes them a good choice as a backyard pet or free-range chicken. It’s also fairly large, so it’s a good meat source, and the hens can lay 200–300 eggs each year.  

What Does the Rhode Island Red Chicken Look Like?

As the name implies, these birds often have a red color. Some have black bodies with red highlights, but most have deep-red bodies. The red birds can develop black feathers on their wings that owners call smut. These birds can be more than 1 foot long from head to tail and often weigh 6 to 8 pounds. They usually have reddish-orange eyes and yellow feet.

Rhode Island Red Chicken Behavior

The Rhode Island Red is a friendly bird, so it’s a good choice for new farmers because it doesn’t need much space and doesn’t mind being handled. These birds are also good for backyards because they often don’t even require fencing if there are no predators around. The downside is that they are usually quite noisy, especially if you have several, and some birds can be bossy toward others.

Rhode Island Red Chicken inside the pen
Image Credit: Stonebench Studios, Shutterstock

Can You Find Rhode Island Red Chickens in the Wild?

No, breeders created the Rhode Island Red in the late 1800s. They wanted something that would lay many eggs and get large enough to use as a meat source.

How Many Eggs Do Rhode Island Red Chickens Produce?

Most reports state that the Rhode Island Red chicken can produce 200–300 eggs per year, and they will start producing them when they are only 5 months old.


The Rhode Island Red chicken is the Rhode Island state bird, and the people who live there chose it by popular vote over several other animals, likely because it produces plenty of food and is friendly, hardy, and low maintenance. It became the state bird in 1954, and no other states claim it as their state bird, leaving it unique to Rhode Island.

See also: 

Featured Image Credit: Tyler T. Photography, Shutterstock

About the Author Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker is a veteran writer who contributes to a wide range of blogs covering information on computer programming, pets, birding, tools, fitness, guitars, and optics. Outside of writing, Ed is often found working in the garden or performing DIY projects in the house. Ed is also a musician, spending his time composing music for independent films or helping people repair their guitars.