Feral fowl rule Hawaiian island

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by opihiman911, Jul 7, 2008.

  1. opihiman911

    opihiman911 Songster

    Mar 19, 2007
    Couldn't help but to pass this on about life on Kauai a.k.a. the chicken island: http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/chi-chicken_letter_glantonjul03,0,1067435.story

    dig this place, but so do their parents, alas
    Feral fowl rule Hawaiian island
    By Dahleen Glanton | Tribune correspondent
    1:52 AM CDT, July 3, 2008
    LIHUE, Hawaii — Their high-pitched voices sound off in the distance as the cruise ship makes its way to port in the early morning.


    The sound of crowing roosters and cackling hens seems to come from all around—the mountains that rise above the clouds, the cliffs overlooking the Na Pali Coast and the backyards of houses on the hillsides.

    In fact, chickens are everywhere on the island of Kauai.

    No one knows exactly how many wild chickens inhabit the 550-square-mile island. Officials estimate they number in the thousands, living peacefully—for the most part—alongside the 65,000 residents in the island's tiny urban areas, or building their nests deep in the tropical landscape that is inaccessible to people.

    "So much of the land is only accessible to chickens," said Julie Souza, a spokeswoman for the Kauai government. "They are so plentiful that we will be called the 'chicken island' pretty soon."

    There are many theories as to how the island became overpopulated with chickens, but the most likely explanation, officials said, is that they were the result of the aftermath of Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

    The hurricane reportedly destroyed a chicken farm, leaving the birds to roam free and multiply.

    Another theory is that people who raised poultry for food abandoned their backyard coops during the storm. Others suggest that laborers on the island's sugar cane plantations began bringing chickens over in the early 1900s primarily for cockfighting, and over the years, they simply overpopulated.

    There are no natural predators for chickens on the island, said Dr. Becky Rhoades, executive director of the Kauai Humane Society.

    "Unlike other islands, we don't have the mongoose, which preys on eggs. And we really don't want them here because, in addition to the chickens, we have a lot of precious, endangered birds," Rhoades said.

    "There are some loose dogs, but the cats mostly coexist with the chickens." she said. "They would have to be pretty bold to go after a hen protecting her chicks. The biggest predator they have is cars.

    "We try to discourage people from feeding the chickens. They are surviving fine on their own," Rhoades said.

    "We know it's human nature to feed the animals, but it is really not in the best interest of the birds to create an artificial food source without thinking about tomorrow."

    Chickens are plentiful in public areas, Souza said. Over the years, they have learned that where tourists gather there is an abundance of free food—rice, sandwiches and even candy—handed out by passersby who think chickens are cute.

    They nestle under grocery carts at the Wal-Mart, oblivious to cars pulling in and out.

    Hens lead chicks on sidewalks along busy streets in the middle of town.

    They spend the day dodging balls on a golf course. They scurry around the bare feet of tourists sunbathing on the beach at a five-star resort. And when it is time for lunch, they make their way to the outdoor restaurant, settling in beneath tables where they can catch falling crumbs.

    "They are just gorgeous," said Roberta Fillhart, a cabdriver on the island.

    "When my daughter was 13, she found a baby chick and brought it home and it followed her around everywhere. But my husband got tired of it and took it away one day when she wasn't home," Fillhart said.

    Half the islanders love having the chickens around and the other half thinks they are a nuisance, officials said, adding that the birds often are the subject of squabbles between neighbors.

    The chickens dig holes around light posts and trees, looking for bugs and centipedes to feed on when there are no cookies or breadcrumbs being handed out.

    They often end up as roadkill, causing a health hazard if the carcasses aren't removed quickly.

    And then there is that other problem.

    "There's poop everywhere," said Leroy Lagmay, sales and marketing manager of the Hilo Hattie store, a popular shopping stop for tourists and a hangout for hungry chicken families.

    "And at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning, they're crowing."

    Tribune correspondent Dahleen Glanton recently took a cruise through the Hawaiian Islands.
  2. d.k

    d.k red-headed stepchild

    * Awww!! I want some! [​IMG]
  3. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

    Feb 4, 2007
    Leesville, SC
    Another place much closer to home to see chickens gone wild is Key West, FL. In some parts of the island, the birds literally rule.
    I remember the city ballfield and park being overrun with them back in the late 80's, when I lived there.
  4. warcard

    warcard Songster

    Apr 4, 2008
    SE Indiana
    Yep, and it is illegal to capture or kill the Key West chickens.
  5. key west chick

    key west chick Songster

    May 31, 2008
    Gainesville, GA
    Davaroo, I was born in Key west and graduated in 86!Go back every year for the cafe con leche, mixes and bollos. I have been catching/adopting chickens there for years. My first ones I caught in my aunts yard, a hen and 6 chicks.Following year, caught 2 more hens.My best friend growing up said catch all you want, I hate them. She works for the KWPD so I wasn't worried about getting in trouble. We did look funny, running around chasing chickens with a throw net. Got to hard so I started adopting them from the lady at the chicken store. People bring her chickens and she looks for homes for them.Couple years ago they hired a guy to catch chickens, paid him a bunch of $$$ and he hardly caught any, too smart I guess. I still have 5 of my original birds and I love all of them![​IMG]. Great,now I feel like I need more!
  6. greenmulberry

    greenmulberry Songster

    Jul 17, 2007
    I was on Kauai earlier this year. The chickens are awesome. Roosters crow all over the island, and every day you can see a momma hen with chicks coming out of the bushes.

    When you have lunch at outdoor roadside cafe's, chickens mill about under the table asking for scraps. Very cool!
  7. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

    Feb 4, 2007
    Leesville, SC
    Quote:And dont forget those delicious media noches, guasa, and conch fritters.
    Next time you go take us with you!
  8. key west chick

    key west chick Songster

    May 31, 2008
    Gainesville, GA
    Oh great, guava pastries,conch chowder from The Raw Bar, and key lime pie from Rooftop Cafe. [​IMG]
  9. holliewould

    holliewould Songster

    May 15, 2008
    Planet Earth
    Quote:This is not true. I live here and Key West wants them gone.
  10. key west chick

    key west chick Songster

    May 31, 2008
    Gainesville, GA
    Holliewould, you actually live there? It's kinda cool 3 of us live/lived in KW. How long have you been there? I've been gone for 17 years. Wonder if we know any of the same people? Ok, so I always assumed my birds where some sort of game mix. Since 2 others know what these birds look like am I right? I had heard the Cubans brought them over to fight but no one I talked to knew any more than that. And your right, most people in KW don't want the birds,they tear up they're pretty yards.[​IMG]

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