What’s with the Chickens?

A Brief History of Kauai’s Most Common Critters

Wherever you go in Kauai, you’re bound to see chickens. They hang out at beaches, beg for food from tourists, and forage through native forests. Without any natural predators, the feathered fowl have become a part of the Kauai landscape.

Local legend says that Kauai’s chicken population descended from birds who escaped their coops during Hurricane Iwa in 1982 and Hurricane Iniki in 1992.
The other Hawaiian Islands are home to egg-loving mongooses, but the carnivores were never brought to Kauai, giving chickens free reign to reproduce.

Chickens were first introduced to the island at least 800 years ago with the arrival of the Polynesians. A 2015 study detailed in The New York Times suggests that the Polynesian chickens laid fewer eggs than modern-day domestic ones, and they were contained to certain parts of Kauai.

However, the wild chickens began to mate with the escaped domestic chickens, the population began to grow, and now you see them everywhere you go on the island. Interestingly, the new crossbreed more closely resembles their Polynesian ancestors, sporting a smaller body and comb.

Chickens aren’t the only domesticated animal that has “gone wild.” Kauai’s wild pigs outnumber people five to one!


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