Friday, May 25, 2007

Kauai chickens

Feral chickens abound on Kauai. They arrived in the Hawaiian Islands with the Polynesian people who settled on the islands, as early as 1100 BC. Those early Hawaiians brought animals they depended on for food, including pigs, and others, such as rats.

Invasive species of all kinds are devastating native plants, birds and animals. The chickens appear to be benign, not causing problems for other birds or plants. Most people find them charming. Several tourists on the beach yesterday watched a mother hen and her chicks scratching away in the sand, finding tasty bits to eat.

The chickens living here today have a generic Red Junglefowl appearance, although they vary a lot. I saw one today that looked distinctly like a Sumatra. They got a boost after Hurricane Iniki in 1992, when chickens that were kept in small flocks were released in the storm's fury.

I photographed this rooster in Allerton Garden, an 80-acre garden created by the Allerton family and now managed by the NTBG,, for the Allerton Gardens Trust.

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