University of Iowa

HERKY THE HAWK & THE SPIRIT SQUAD

The state of Iowa has made claim to the nickname “Hawkeyes” since the early 1800’s and in 1948, began the search for a mascot image to match the name. Dick Spencer, a Professor of Journalism and former Look Magazine artist, sketched a smiling hawk wearing an Iowa sweater. A contest was held to name the bird; the winner being “Herky,” as a reference to the powerful Greek God Hercules. Herky first appeared as a costumed mascot in 1959 during a football game.

Herky was not a well-behaved bird and was dismissed for a short time after his first year as mascot. Herky was saved and revived in 1962 by a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity with a new 25-pound fiberglass head. The tradition of Herky only being portrayed by members of the  Delta Tau Delta fraternity remained until 1999 when the Delts lost their chapeter at UI. Today, Herky the Hawk is an official part of the Spirit Squad, along with the Cheerleaders and the Dance Team.