Free Range Feral Chickens

Free Range Feral Chickens

Wyandotte hens head

 

The Hawaiian island of Kauai is home to a large number of feral chickens. Chickens roam everywhere, so much so that they have become a tourist attraction, rather like the cats on Japan’s Cat Island.

Scientists are studying the chickens as they appear to be reverting back to their ancient form (the chickens, that is, not the scientists). ┬áThe process seems to be domestication in reverse. Dr Dominic Wright, a biology professor from Linkoping University in Sweden, says that the chickens’ combs are becoming smaller. Since domestic hens advertise to roosters their laying ability, and so presumably their fertility, by their big red floppy combs, why are the combs in the feral chickens becoming smaller? Good question. I’ll bet this puzzle will be good for a few learned papers from Dr Wright, not to mention a few trips to Hawaii. Who could blame him? If your local recreation consists of going to the ice hockey and listening to Ghost CDs, a trip to Hawaii is probably a pretty appealing idea.

The featured picture shows the head and comb of Melissa, my late Wyandotte hen. It’s a rose comb, which is small and unimpressive looking. Melissa wasn’t much of a layer either, so at least she couldn’t have been accused of false advertising by any passing roosters. Effie and Anthea both have nice big red floppy combs and they lay prolifically, so perhaps there is something in this theory about the combs.

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