State symbols are often adopted after a collaborative effort by citizens and students to have a significant item recognized for its importance to the state. States such as Kansas, and many others began to adopt some of their own official state symbols several decades ago, and in some cases, over 100 years ago. A state symbol can come in the form of state animals, trees, amphibians, nicknames, flags, state seals, and much more.
Citizens, children, and educational institutions often research a particular symbol and make a request for a bill, subsequently following it all the way through the legislative process with the hope that it is enacted and a new state symbol is announced for Kansas. Like other states, there are many Kansas state symbols.
What is the Kansas State Bird?
The Kansas state bird and flower are the Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) and the Wild Native Sunflower (Helianthus). The western meadowlark became the official Kansas state bird back in 1937.
Much like the mockingbird, meadowlarks are songbirds that can be found all across North America. They are part of the same family as blackbirds and orioles, and adult meadowlarks display a black and white striped head, a long bill, yellow face, and bright yellow throat, with a black “V” shape on their chest.
You will commonly find these birds perched on fences and posts, typically residing in grasslands or massive agricultural fields, singing their songs.
These beautiful birds scrounge the ground and dirt, digging underneath soil for insects, grains, and seeds for food. Roughly 70% of their diet consists of caterpillars, grasshoppers, spiders, and beetles, pretty much any insect they can get their beak to.
Today, there are an estimated 30 million+ residing in the wild; however, their population is unfortunately on the decline.
What is the Kansas State Flower?
It only makes sense for the sunflower state to adopt the sunflower as their state flower, right? Kansas adopted the sunflower as the official state flower and floral emblem back in 1903. The sunflower is incredibly symbolic within the state and is also featured on the state quarter, and state flag, and it is even the official state nickname.
Sunflowers have been incredibly useful throughout the years, with Native Americans using native sunflowers for their food over 3,000 years ago. The seeds of these sunflowers were much smaller than today, only around 5 mm long. However, nowadays, they are much larger, and so is the flower itself, containing sunflower oil too, which is commonly used by consumers today.
Most states will have their symbols showcase a relevant story, that is indicative of the state and its history, and the Sunflower State puts its history and what it stands for across very well in its state bird and flower.
These interesting facts about Kansas and a whole host of others make the state so unique and fascinating to those who live there, those planning to visit, or anyone researching the historical events of the state and what they symbolize.