KU Today: The evolution of KU’s one-of-a-kind mascot

Kansas University may be 150 years old, but its mascot — the Jayhawk — is slightly more of a spring chicken.

The term Jayhawk combines two birds: the blue jay, noisy and quarrelsome, and the sparrowhawk, a stealthy hunter, according to KU’s “Traditions” website. During the Civil War, the term Jayhawkers came to be applied to anti-slavery ruffians who made Lawrence a Free State stronghold.

The bird first emerged at KU in a cheer — the famous Rock Chalk chant — in 1886, according to KU. And when KU football players first took the field in 1890, they were called Jayhawkers.

It would be years before an official mascot emerged on paper. Here, according to KU, is the evolution of KU’s Jayhawk.