U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8b. Sunset climate zone 5

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Island Chicken Story

My first picture taken on the Kauai Island was not of the beautiful flowers

or the beaches

It was this one:

Wild chickens. Before I saw them, I read about them. Wall Street Journal published very interesting Ann Zimmerman's article in April.
She wrote that Kauai was overrun by roosters, hens and little chicks which forage at outdoor food courts, ruin sugar cane and corn crops and wake islanders and tourists with predawn crowing. The birds lay eggs inside store booths.

The WSJ article explains that other Hawaiian islands have wild chickens, too, but Kauai's problem is worse since it's the only island in the chain that doesn't have mongooses,the natural enemy of wild chickens. "Mongooses were imported to the Hawaiian islands in the late 1800s to kill rats in the sugar-cane fields. Local legend has it that a mongoose bit the hand of a Kauai dockworker, who knocked the entire crate of the critters into the bay, and no more were imported. That's good news for rare bird species if nobody else".

This picture was taken near the waterfall that can't be reached by a car. We kaiaked and then hiked for a mile. And what we saw there the first? The wild rooster!

We, personally, were not annoyed by the crowing.
Boys were excited to see the birds walking into the restaurants and loved feeding them the corn sold for this purpose.

So, where did they come from?

The WSJ article says: "Kauai's wild-chicken population started to get out of hand in 1992, when Hurricane Iniki, the state's most devastating hurricane, hit the island, doing $1.8 billion in damage to the beaches, hotels and local property. At the time, there were five sugar plantations on the island. Workers, many from Portugal and the Philippines, lived on the plantations and raised animals for food. Domestic chickens were set loose during the storm. But there was also a large, underground cockfighting scene on the island, according to Becky Rhodes, director of the Kauai Humane Society.
"The hurricane blew apart the containers where the cocks were raised, and they flourished" in the wild. The wild hens are edible, but remain tough even after hours of cooking, locals attest. Still, as the economy in Kauai worsens -- tourism spending was down 15% last year -- more hens are winding up on the dinner table. That's no threat to the roosters, though."

We saw a lot of colorful souvenirs inspired by the wild chickens. We heard that the birds eat centipedes - that is why some people can forgive them the noise which they make.

The Kauai's wild chickens reminded me of the Key West where the birds could be seen crossing the streets in front of the cars. The BIG difference is that there are thousands of them in Kauai.

The WSJ article is here:


  1. Very interesting! I know the other islands have mongoose, but I didn't realize Kauai didn't. Great photos

  2. Thanks for the info

    Nice photos

  3. Хе-хе оч похоже на наши районы в частном секторе)) ТОлько вот океана такого нет... Или это не океан?

  4. I think this is way cool!!

  5. Interesting story. It shows how quickly it can get out of hand when the conditions are right. Beautiful pictures, the chickens are pretty. One should collect the eggs!

  6. How interesting Tatyana. I knew nothing about such a chicken problem on Kauai. It's one of the islands (along with Maui) that I'd love to visit someday. I'll have to remember this. I've missed a few of your posts so I didn't realize you were on vacation. I hope it was fabulous but I bet your tomatoes and garden were glad to see you return!?

  7. These chickens are quite attractive -- your photos are great and really added so much to the story.

    The ocean photos are breathtaking. I hope every moment there you had a wonderful vacation.

  8. Таня, с интересом рассмотрела все фотографии, благодарю за них и за рассказ!
    Как только вижу цветы в природе, сразу вспоминаются те калифорнийские алоэ - великие и красивые, при виде которых я жаждала буквально выпрыгнуть из вашей машины.
    А океан меня завораживает, и оторопеваю я от тут же возникающей мысли - что он есть такое... И нескольких прибрежных метров для счастья мне достаточно...
    Ну а любуясь пернатыми, неустанно улыбаюсь: да-а-а, на иной территории они давно бы не бегали, тем более по собственному усмотрению. Даже от фотокадров веет "сладким словом" СВОБОДА!

  9. I love the chickens, Tatyana. We cannot rear them at home anymore because it's against the law in the city. I miss the morning call of the cockerels. Chickens love centipedes. A centipede bite is very very painful and we apply chicken saliva on the wound to promote healing and lessen the pain. My grandmother taught me this when my grandpa was bitten by a centipede.

  10. Kauai is my favorite. We took a ten mile hike down the coast and saw some chickens at the end. Truly wild as there wasn't a soul around.

    I am visiting Maui in October. I can't wait to see some tropical flowers like your pictures.

  11. Great pictures and story.


  12. I just never think of chickens when I think of Hawaii! Thanks for a very entertaining story and great photos! gail

  13. I had no idea Kauai Island was overrun with chickens. It's amazing how much they've thrived and multiplied, but I always have to remember, no predators!

    Ah, the blue of that ocean water -- so beautiful.

  14. I love that your first photo was of the wild chicks! That would have been mine too~ Great post and good info!

  15. Tatyana,
    You have made us so excited about our upcoming trip! Great photos! As you could expect, the wild chickens will be a welcome sight for us.
    Please feel free to email us with any info/things you feel we shouldn't miss on our trip. We look forward to more posts about your vacation!
    Victoria and Kim - victoryqueen at cableone dot com

  16. When I saw your post title I was wondering what your trip and chickens had to do with each other. I'd never heard about this before.
    The beach picture is so pretty.

  17. That is so crazy that they run around wild. Too funny!

  18. What a story! Wild chickens, who knew? When I scrolled down and saw your first picture taken, the old joke popped into my head....'Why did the chicken cross the road....?' hahaha
    Your photos above the chickens are just fabulous. wow!

  19. Great story and photos, as always! Too bad about the cockfighting, I always wish humanity was better at not inflicting its problems on other species. I wonder if the stores sell the eggs that the wild chickens lay?

  20. That is the last thing I expected to see in Hawaii. Great photots and I loved the mother hen with the chicks, so sweet! I am such sucker for baby animals.
    Glad you are back safe.

  21. Loved the insight into your story about hens and chicks. Great history lesson, too. I'll have to ask my friend who lives there about them and if he has a problem with them. Sounds like Kauai has the same infestation as we do with feral cats that live in our nearby field! Oy!

  22. Thanks for your comment. It's great to hear from others at this early stage. By the way I lived in Moscow for four years in the 1990s and have my Master's in Russian. Would love to hear more about your mother's and grandmother's ways of gardening.

  23. Loved the story and the pictures!
    The ocean one....AWESOME!!!

  24. Tatyana, you brought laughter to go with my! All the beautiful places and things to do and the highlight for the boys were feeding chickens..haha! Can't wait to see more 'scenes'...beautiful photos!


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