When you visit Kauai or Hawaii in general, you will quickly notice that there are chickens everywhere. In fact, it’s not unusual to see them walking down the street or even crossing the road. So why are there so many chickens in Hawaii? Let’s take a closer look at this interesting phenomenon!
The Hawaiian Islands have a long and varied agricultural history. In the 1700s, sugarcane was introduced to the islands, and large plantations soon sprung up. These plantations brought with them a menagerie of animals, including chickens. When the sugar industry began to decline in the late 1800s, many of these animals were simply let loose and left to fend for themselves.
As a result, chickens became one of the most common pests on the islands. They would often raid trash cans and scavenge for food scraps, leading to complaints from residents. In recent years, however, the chicken population has begun to decline as a result of predators and disease. This decline has been welcomed by many islanders, who no longer have to deal with pesky chickens raiding their garbage cans.
In order to get the full story, we are going to have to dig a little bit into the history of Kauai. The original red jungle fowl, mua, were brought here by Polynesian voyagers as a source of food. After this introduction, they essentially became feral and roamed freely on the island. These birds were much different than what we are seeing on Kauai today.
Other species of chickens continued to be introduced to the islands after James Cook’s arrival in 1778, however, they were mostly kept in cages and coops for farming purposes or cockfighting. Two hurricanes, during the years 1982 and 1992, caused devastation to the island of Kauai in which these cages and coops were decimated allowing all the fowl to roam freely. What we are seeing today is both an ancient and modern hybrid chicken with all of these mixed traits.
Are there any benefits to Hawaii’s feral chickens?
Chickens are often considered pests, but in many areas of the world, they are actually prized for their ability to control insect populations. In Hawaii, for example, chickens play an important role in keeping the population of destructive bugs and insects in check.
Without chickens, these pests would quickly destroy crops and other plants, leading to a decline in food production. In addition, chickens help to keep mosquito populations under control, which is essential for preventing the spread of disease. As a result, chickens provide a valuable service to the people of Hawaii and play an important role in the ecosystem.
The least useful benefit, of course, is entertainment by watching them run around everywhere.
The Downsides To Feral Chickens In Hawaii
Chickens are everywhere in Hawaii. They run free on the roadside, roost in trees, and scratch at the doorsteps of homes. While they may seem harmless, these ubiquitous birds can cause serious problems. Their loud crowing can be a nuisance, and their sharp claws can devastate native plants.
When they get into farms, they can cause hundreds or thousands of dollars in damage. And Studies have shown that chickens are a leading cause of car accidents on the island. As a result, many people view these animals as pests.
Don’t feed the chickens!
Though they may seem harmless, these birds can carry a number of diseases, including avian flu and Newcastle disease. In addition, they can also damage vegetation and spread invasive species. As a result, it’s best to just admire these birds from afar and not try to provide them with a meal.
They can also be aggressive and territorial, and will (attempt) to attack you. Their claws are still sharp!
Visit Kauai & See Chickens!
We hope this has helped you figure out the common question most visitors in Hawaii think of when arriving.
Hawaii is a unique and beautiful destination, and there are plenty of ways to have fun while you’re visiting. Koloa Zipline is a great place to start. We offer exciting zip-line tours that give you a bird’s-eye view of Kauai’s stunning scenery. And we’re always happy to answer any questions you might have about the island or our tour options. So come see us when you’re in Hawaii – we’ll make sure you have a blast!