The AtlanticThe Atlantic

Hawaii’s feral chickens are out of control

By Tove Danovich

24 May 2023 · 5 min read

informed Summary

  1. The chickens of Kauai are descended from birds brought to the island centuries ago and have adapted to their environment, becoming feral and thriving in proximity to humans.

On the island of Kauai, wherever humans go, chickens go too. Hens and chicks kick around in grocery-store parking lots and parks. They’re visitors to cookouts and picnics. On popular hikes, many people are rewarded at the end of the trail with a picturesque view of the island and a small flock of chickens. The birds kick up newly planted condo landscaping and community gardens. Restaurants hand-paint signs asking patrons not to feed the fowl.

These are not your average chickens. Descended from birds brought to the island in centuries past, they are now feral, surviving on their own, which suits them just fine. The hens are drab and blend into the bushes. The roosters are a mixture of orange, mahogany red, and iridescent black. At night they roost in trees for safety. In the morning, roosters begin calling long before dawn—and continue all day long. All roosters do this, but these ones live among people instead of in industrial barns. Even so, tourists seem to love them. When I was there a few years ago, I saw souvenir shops full of T-shirts and caps that referred to the roosters as Kauai Dawn Patrol.

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