Visitors often wonder why there are so many chickens roam freely on Kauai.
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.
What’s so bad about these feral fowl?
Opinions vary on this topic. For visitors, the commotion and constant crowing of these birds can be annoying and even impact sleeping patterns. The unexpected “chicken crossing the road” often catches some drivers off guard, causing them to swerve dangerously to avoid hitting it. Other drivers find them fascinating and pull over abruptly to take a picture causing motor vehicle accidents. Local farmers have problems keeping them out of their gardens as they root for food and destroy everything in their path. Businesses involved in food production often face the struggles of having large populations accumulate due to people feeding them.
Is there anything good about having them around?
Actually, yes there is! These fowl eat a lot of insects, in particular, centipedes that bite and cause a reaction similar to a bee sting, only way worse. These chickens have also added to the character of our island home and are popularly used in designs, crafts and other local makings. The running joke is that they are the “distant cousins” of the dinosaurs left here after the filming of Jurassic Park.
Chicken’s: Dos and Don’ts.
Don’t feed the chickens. It causes them to be reliant on human interaction and links us to a source of food. While it may seem entertaining for a moment, they can get rather aggressive when it comes to scraps. It’s not recommended to try and catch one. Keep in mind they have very sharp beaks and talons on their feet which can cause serious harm.