Nature and noise…What’s with all the feral chickens in Kauai? Video… A year ago, an awe inspiring experience for Tom!

The colors in this scene from our lanai left us breathless.

When we arrived at the airport in Lihue, we notice hens, roosters, and chicks wandering about the airport, on the street, and in the rental car parking lot. We’d heard there were feral chickens everywhere in Kauai but never gave it much of a thought until we arrived.

The Costco parking lot didn’t have as many chickens as elsewhere, but we’d read online that Costco attempts to keep them at bay in their lot, using legal harmless traps. However, when we stopped at Walmart, they were everywhere, including nesting in the tree planters scattered here and there in the lot.

A possible variety of Hibiscus.

I tried getting photos, but most often we spotted them while driving. Between the car’s movement and the fast run of both chickens and roosters, they were difficult to pin down for many photos. Then again, we all know what a chicken looks like.

Many roosters in Kauai have this coloration.

After reading several articles online as to why there are so many chickens on Kauai, we came to the conclusion that it may be a result of a few factors:

1.  In 1992, Hurricane Iniki, the most powerful hurricane ever to hit the US, resulted in the destruction of many chicken farms and private chicken coops.
2.  Sugar cane plantation laborers in the late 1800s and early 1900s raised chicken for the culturally acceptable sport of cock fighting (still acceptable in the islands today) and over the years, they got loose.

This video is more about the sounds than the scenes.

I was in Kauai multiple times in the 1980s (before Tom) and don’t recall seeing chickens at that time. However, on prior visits, I stayed in hotels where they may have been controlled at the time.

The walking path for the ocean viewing area across the street.

In Hawaii, it’s legal to catch and cook feral chickens although we’ve read several posts stating that the meat is tough and stringy. Many local residents have accepted their constant presence finding humor in their often quirky behavior and wouldn’t consider killing them, nor would we.

Pretty, oceanfront condos.

Besides, when one can purchase a meaty chicken to cook for around $10 here in Hawaii, it’s hardly worth, killing, cleaning, and plucking a chicken, a gruesome messy proposition that few would care to tackle unless they’re used to such activity from living on a farm.

Dolphins etched into the sidewalk.

Some locals have trapped them for egg production. One would think that would have an impact on the price of eggs in Kauai but prices are the highest we’ve seen anywhere in the world, as much at $9 for a dozen free-range eggs. In this case, Costco has better pricing at $8 for 18 free-range eggs.

Tom, checking out the view.

The most interesting aspect to us is the constant crowing of the roosters and occasional clucking of the hens. In many countries we’ve visited over the past two-plus years, we’ve been subject to crowing roosters in such locations as;  Tuscany, Italy; Diani Beach, Kenya; Marrakesh, Morocco; Campanario, Madeira; Big Island, Hawaii and now, more than any of these others, everywhere on the island of Kauai, even in this planned community of Princeville.

What surprises us, now that we have chickens in our midst constantly, is the day-long crowing. They do settle down after dark but begin crowing again with fervor around 4:00 am, known as “anticipatory predawn crowing” according to this excellent article from National Geographic.

Evergreens grow on the islands.

Why do they crow? Based on our research, roosters crow for several reasons including territorial announcements, interest in attracting their hens and chicks, and defining the “pecking order.” 

Are chickens stupid, as many believe? According to this study as shown here, chickens can be as cunning as humans in their bid for survival, food, and shelter. Who’d have ever given the chicken credit for being intelligent?

Yellow Hibiscus are in bloom during the winter months.

As we sit here at 10:00 am Monday morning, the crowing is occurring at least once every 30 seconds. This morning at 5 am, we heard it at least one crow every 15 seconds. It seems to slow down in the late afternoon, completely stopping after dark, other than an occasional crow.

But, come the early dawn, the roosters begin again, loud and persistent. As with the sound of the clock tower next door to us in Tuscany, clanging every 15 minutes; the baa of the goats in the yard in Kenya; the call-to-prayer chant six times per day including predawn in Marrakesh, Morocco; and the constant roar of the ocean waves hitting the lava rocks and also the coqui frog on the Big Island of Hawai’i; we’ve quickly adapted and become able to sleep through it all.

And, what a view it is!

Surely, it will be no different here as we find amusement in the sounds of the feral chickens on this glorious island of Kauai, for whatever reasons there happens to be so many.

Have a happy Monday!

                                            Photo from one year ago today, January 19, 2014:

Tom, wearing a long leather glove covering his entire hand and arm, volunteered to feed this vulture when we visited the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in South Africa. For more photos of our interaction with these and other amazing animals including a cougar, please click here.
As we continue on our walks.