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We often forget that chickens are really creatures of the forest floor, living in the humidity of sub-tropical rain forests. Trapped in battery huts, or pecking around a dusty farmyard, or even free range in fields, these are not the real essence of chicken.

It's only when you see a small group of feral chickens coming out of the underbrush in a Hawaiian forest, that you realise that the birds you know are mere facsimiles of the real thing. Even though these birds, like many you see on Big Island, are interlopers, they're more at home here than most of the places you'll see them. Suddenly things make sense: the high stepping walk as they cross exposed roots, the bright coloured feathers to stand out from the viridian bush, the loud cry to keep flocks together, the scrapping to find insects and seeds under the detritus of the forest floor.

You hear them coming first, the cluck of the hens and the crowing, herding call of the cocks. They're wary, hiding from mongoose in the bush, darting behind leaves at every noise. Then they come out, ballet stepping across the forest floor, the cocks guiding the hens across the clearing - fast - to keep out of danger.


Lava Trees, Big Island, Hawaii
June 2009


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 4th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC)
A truly impressive cock!
Aug. 8th, 2009 05:00 pm (UTC)
Best comment ever!
Aug. 6th, 2009 07:01 pm (UTC)
Our neighbour farmer has a cockeral with a harem of seven hens. They roam all around the area, incuding our garden. It's nice to see them - and they don't do any damage. (Except I just found out they're partial to blackcurrants!)

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )