Few Kauaians share his malice towards feral chickens.
January 27, 2016 8:49 AM   Subscribe

"Don't look at them directly,” Rie Henriksen whispers, “otherwise they get suspicious.” The neuroscientist is referring to a dozen or so chickens loitering just a few metres away in the car park of a scenic observation point for Opaekaa Falls on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. As the two try to act casual by their rented car, a jet-black hen with splashes of iridescent green feathers pecks its way along a trail of bird feed up to a device called a goal trap. Wright tugs at a string looped around his big toe and a spring-loaded net snaps over the bird. After a moment of stunned silence, the hen erupts into squawking fury. Biologists see in the feral animals an improbable experiment in evolution: what happens when chickens go wild?

Gering E, Johnsson M, Willis P, Getty T, Wright D. 2015. Mixed ancestry and admixture in Kauai's feral chickens: invasion of domestic genes into ancient Red Junglefowl reservoirs. Molecular Ecology 24(9): 2112-2124.
posted by ChuraChura (33 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
Metafilter: what happens when chickens go wild?
posted by sammyo at 8:55 AM on January 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


A lot of breast jokes and a MeTa.
posted by Etrigan at 8:55 AM on January 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


POYO!
posted by Kitteh at 8:56 AM on January 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: what happens when chickens go wild?

Probably "The Chickening"
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 8:56 AM on January 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


I love how animals gone feral turn back into more sensible seeming creatures. Pigs get hairy and grow big tusks, cows get smart, tough, and mean, chickens get lean and fast.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:56 AM on January 27, 2016 [14 favorites]


Please tell me they get tastier!
posted by cjorgensen at 8:57 AM on January 27, 2016


Metafilter: just a bunch of shitty friends
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 9:17 AM on January 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


They do not get tastier, they get tough! My son camped out in Kauai for a while with other folks with low-paying jobs or none, and they knew the feral chickens well but nobody would eat them unless they were desperate. I was amazed to see them when I visited, they were everywhere. I got Red Dirt Warrior tee shirt with a rooster on it. I especially enjoyed seeing them stroll past my blanket on the beach like they owned it, which they did.
posted by mermayd at 9:21 AM on January 27, 2016


There really are a lot of feral chickens here on Maui. There are about 20 or so that live on my block. I like them - they eat the giant biting centipedes.
posted by melissasaurus at 9:27 AM on January 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


I think that after a few years of natural selection you wind up with a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
posted by Xoc at 9:49 AM on January 27, 2016 [7 favorites]


The chicken biologists watch ripples form on the surface of a cup of water in their SUV as the ground reverberates with heavy footfalls.
posted by XMLicious at 9:52 AM on January 27, 2016 [14 favorites]


My favorite place to eat in Kaua'i is Duane's Ono Char Burger, and part of the experience is sitting at the picnic tables and seeing who will visit you first: Any of the Jurassic Chickens (they really do stalk around like the raptors in original-flavor Jurassic Park) or any of the myriad feral cats slinking around Kaua'i.
posted by sobell at 9:57 AM on January 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Okay slight derail but those centipedes would make me want to hurl myself into the nearest volcano.
posted by blucevalo at 10:05 AM on January 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Packs of feral dogs, for instance, do not form the complex hierarchies that make wolves such fearsome predators. “There's no leadership the way you get in a wolf pack. It's just a bunch of shitty friends,” says Greger Larson...

God damn. I worked a couple summers someplace with feral dogs, and that is such an incredibly apt description.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:14 AM on January 27, 2016 [13 favorites]


Driving through Scotland, on the way to the Isle of Skye, I passed a "Warning: Feral Goats" sign. I never saw any, but I always wondered what feral goats were doing that would cause someone to put up warning signs.
posted by Mogur at 10:23 AM on January 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


it just so happens I am wearing this t-shirt today. I miss those chickens.
posted by philip-random at 10:24 AM on January 27, 2016


I always wondered what feral goats were doing that would cause someone to put up warning signs.

In my experience, goats will ram the shit out of anything they see, including your rental car.
posted by Huck500 at 10:39 AM on January 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Some of the most dangerous hunting in the entire United States is to be found on a single island in the most isolated island chain in the world. It’s not grizzly bears or mountain lions or even bison: it’s the wild Hawaiian cow.

Boy, if that sentence is not enough to get you to read leotrotsy's cow article, I don't know what is wrong with your life.
posted by blurker at 10:41 AM on January 27, 2016 [7 favorites]


Poyo happens. (Chew reference, BTW. If you haven't read it, you are a less happy person, and I am sorry for you.)
posted by Samizdata at 10:51 AM on January 27, 2016


@nebulawindphone

Packs of feral dogs, for instance, do not form the complex hierarchies that make wolves such fearsome predators. “There's no leadership the way you get in a wolf pack. It's just a bunch of shitty friends,” says Greger Larson...

There's a chapter in Gordon Grice's excellent book The Red Hourglass which discusses this behavior.
posted by JohnFromGR at 10:52 AM on January 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love how animals gone feral turn back into more sensible seeming creatures. Pigs get hairy and grow big tusks, cows get smart, tough, and mean, chickens get lean and fast.

I like the fact that all three of these examples can be found in Hawaii. The cow and chicken stories reference Hawaii directly, and meanwhile there are a lot of feral pigs around the islands. (The fuckers root up native trees and destroy habitat.)
posted by tobascodagama at 10:54 AM on January 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Despite living with us for five and a half years, my budgie who escaped and lived wild with sparrows is still pretty wild. If you look at him too long he gets stressed out. But progress is being made - in the past six months he will eat a pea or grain of rice from my fingertips - as long as I ignore him :)
posted by Calzephyr at 11:55 AM on January 27, 2016


They do not get tastier, they get tough!

Oh, there's solutions for that.

I wish Hana Hou was more of an independent presence (because ZOMG, its both the world's best in-flight magazine and the content is like NatGeo good): they had nearly the same article about the cows but they had it framed in terms of the two guys who are responsible for regularly tracking them down -- I think their mandate runs out at year's end. Also more about the sorry end of David Douglas who I believe was found in a bull pit.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:20 PM on January 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Shhh. Do not tell my girls. They will get ideas. They look like they might start T-rexing at any moment already.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:10 PM on January 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, don't give our crossfit chickens any ideas. As it is there are pretty brute guys who refuse to help care for them because of their dinosaur-like ways (and these hens are so spoiled! Mealy-worm treats galore! Which they'll peck out of your hand So Hard!).
posted by ldthomps at 1:23 PM on January 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Wild, wild chickens. We'll ride them someday.
posted by Kabanos at 1:51 PM on January 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


From my experience keeping chickens (the constant kerfuffles, the low muttering under their breath whenever I approach, the thievery and destruction of property- mostly the garden) they are, all just a, step away from Feral anyway. Really, they are just a flock of tiny T Rex in the backyard.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 2:25 PM on January 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


meanwhile there are a lot of feral pigs around the islands. (The fuckers root up native trees and destroy habitat.)

The last time I was in Kaua'i, two of the locals I was talking to were telling me that one of their jobs was hunting the wild pigs on the former Lihue Plantation, among other big tracts of land. One man said laconically that he basically had three chest freezers in his garage -- one for the fish he caught for fun, two full of butchered pork that he kept or shared out with friends and family. Apparently the meat was tasty enough if prepared properly.
posted by sobell at 3:24 PM on January 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, hunting for wild boar is extremely common in the rural parts of all the islands.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:47 PM on January 27, 2016


those centipedes would make me want to hurl myself into the nearest volcano

The important thing I have learned about those, as I've said elsewhere: after skinny dipping, shake out your shorts.
posted by flabdablet at 10:47 PM on January 27, 2016


Guys, not less than two hours after I commented on the centipedes, one fell on my head in the shower and bit me. I'm 100% serious right now.

Lesson learned; do not disparage the centipedes. They will know, and they will find you.
posted by melissasaurus at 11:45 PM on January 27, 2016 [21 favorites]


...sounds like you need more chickens.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:10 AM on January 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


Two hens, wearing shower caps, standing guard
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:36 AM on January 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


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