There are several different races of domestic fowl known as "Rapa Nui", the Koro Sea; Kiri Kiri; Raraku, Tapu, the Spice Island and Wallikiki Basket Bantams and composites between any and all of them. More than a few strains of Rapa Nui will be composites with South American breeds like the Collonca and Paco as well.
Recently, I had two pairs of composite ( aforementioned strain) Rapanui shipped to Colorado from New England. They arrived when snow and freezing wind were still weekly occurrences. Even once the sun transformed the landscape it took them a few more months to venture out of their cote. There are seventy some standard sized domestic chickens running about the place as soy free egg sales help support the operation. The Rapanui are so tiny in comparison, it's not difficult to imagine why there is such a disconnect between hatchery domestic stock and cultural treasure oddity. The egg flock, regardless of breed, don't wander far from where they are fed though they have free range to do as they please. They are heavy and pondering and not very bright but with gentle dispositions and an overall good chicken attitude.
The Rapanui- they are a different creature altogether.
They don't come readily to food and remain perched within their cote for many more hours of the day than one may expect. Their eggs fit perfectly in the quail egg cartons.
Today they stroll about the place in a tight little covey of two pairs. The males have the "X-Mas Island" phenotype- a bright orange body with wide purple collars, highly iridescent violet blue tails and iridescent purple mauve and bronze orange shoulders. When they stand beside the antique weathered tin siding cotes -they are perfectly camouflaged and the hens are impossible to see in the grass.
The females are coloured like francolins or coturnix quail with really fine vermiculations and striation with fully feathered faces and no sign of wattles or combs.
Both sexes exhibit blue grey feet and legs. They don't make much noise- one rooster has a moan of a crow- with no real syllables- sounds more like a frog crossed with a button quail. The other male sings whenever he makes an appearance in the barnyard but never in the pasture. His voice has cadence and syllables of a Coturnix crossed with that of bantam rooster.
One hen " Honey" is partially Kiri Kiri. You can identify this by her blue jay shaped top-knot and her long slender bill. She talks alot- always singing.
The other hen "Lucky" is a purebred Spice Island. I've never heard her make a sound unless chased.
The two males are composite Basket Bantam with Koro Sea sires. One rooster "Rusty" is very much a Pacific Junglefowl in shape and morphology with the elongated tail so characteristic of Pacific Junglefowl with hybrid green JF ancestry. Rusty has the same or very similar exquisite colouration as "Rufous" who differs from Rusty in that he has the winterized face and abbreviated body shape of the Koro Sea/ Quechua/Quail Bantam.
Ostensibly, these four birds will form the foundation of a closed composite flock unique to this estate. We will add a few more Rapanui sired composites- from Renee Caldwell eventually- but after that no additional genetics will be bred into the line.
The four stick close to a rapid stream that cuts through the ranch. This is very open country- the main houses and barns are ~ several hundred yards from the gardens and livestock yard operations centre.
I don't know where the Rapanui fowl are a good part of a given day though we regularly see them haunting the shelters of hoofstock where they actively hunt for flies.
This is where they seem to be at least every other day during morning and late afternoon hours.
look for Rusty's tail in the foreground; he's still hidden within a furrow
I've been trying to keep a better eye on them lately and have discovered a curious habit that I've never observed in chickens before. They thread their way through open pasture to and from favorite haunts along the brook- moving through tall grass concealed in furrows and trails cut by grazing animals- wild and domestic; ducking into every shadow regardless of what's going on in the sky. They behave more like Coturnix than Junglefowl or Chickens. The covey seem to keep a very close eye on our resident ravens and magpies. You won't see them out in the open unless one of the species are present. I think this may be due to the diligence these Corvid birds guard their aerial territory over the ranch.
Today I witnessed the Rapanui across the brook taking dust baths amidst the Prairie Dog colony a half an acre across open pasture and on the opposite side of a wide stream from the nearest cow barn and poultry cotes. This is odd. One would think they would wander down the opposite direction- where there are thick willows and a cottonwood that has blown over creating the most glorious cover- for any typical junglefowl or even wild banty.
They don't interact much with other chickens though the males do hold a rank within the peck order of the poultry yard. The little females are cowed by the larger birds but the roosters are fairly fearless and quickly chase off any competition when they see fit.
Edited by Resolution - 7/14/11 at 2:11pm