Aloha! Meet Kauai’s Unofficial Mascot: The Wild Chicken

Aloha, from Kauai! It’s National Chicken Month and what better way to celebrate than learning about the unofficial mascot of this Hawaiian island: chickens.

If you have not been to Kauai, you probably did not know it is inhabited by thousands of wild moa, as they are called in Hawaiian. It is estimated there are as many as 450,000 chickens, according to The Union. For reference, there are only about 72,000 residents in Kauai.

In other words, you cannot miss these island fowl. They greet you in the rental car lots at the airport, their crow wakes you up in the morning (or at any time, really) and they can be found running through the beach sands, enjoying the sun just like many vacationing mainlanders.

There are a few theories as to how chickens ended up on an island in the middle of the Pacific. First, according to the New York Times, researchers traced some of their DNA to jungle fowl from Southeast Asia, originally brought in by early settlers. Other settlers brought in domestic chickens for farming. As the tale goes, those birds may have escaped during Hurricane Iwa in 1982 and Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

Another theory says that when several of the Hawaiian Islands released an army of mongoose to control rats back in the late 1800s, Kauai did not make the cut. With no mongoose to eat chickens (or rats), these feathered island dwellers moseyed on with few predatorial threats. Today, the jungle fowl and the domestic birds continue to breed, and these squawkers are all over the place.

While the constant crooning may irritate you, the beautiful coloring of these birds is sure to draw you in. The roosters still have traditional brilliant reddish hackles, but they also feature gorgeous feathers colored in various shades of blues, blacks, oranges, reds, and browns. Plus, if you stay long enough, you will probably see a hen with some fuzzy, cute, baby chicks following their mama. No need to worry about their eventual fate. The birds remain prolific because state law prohibits harming them in any way. The island has truly embraced the wild chicken and if you decide to visit, I bet you will, too.


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Aloha! Meet Kauai’s Unofficial Mascot: The Wild Chicken