A chicken on the beach in Kauai

Chicken Island

When you think about Hawaii, what do you see? Surfers? Volcanoes? Chickens? Well, maybe you don’t think about that last one, but actually, the Hawaiian island called Kauai has a large population of chickens. They have chickens everywhere: on the beach, in the forest, and even by people’s houses. But where did they come from?

Some people think the chickens used to be on farms, but escaped during hurricanes in 1982 and 1992. When they escaped, they mixed with the wild chickens that were already living on the island, and the population grew. Kauai’s population of chickens is much larger than the other islands of Hawaii, probably because there are no mongooses that would eat chicken eggs.

The chickens survive by eating whatever they can: cat food, garbage, and bugs. It may sound like a gross diet to us, but chickens love it.


Scientists have begun studying the chickens’ DNA, the formula of how an animal will look and act, to see how farm chickens will interact with wild chickens and what kind of chickens they will produce. The mixing of different DNA will teach scientists new things about wild chickens, like how do they lay their eggs, what do they eat, and why do they keep showing up around the local Wal-Mart?

Although you may picture chickens mostly on farms, they have the capacity to survive in the wild like any animal. So, next time you’re in Hawaii, say hello to the chickens, but don’t get too close, they’re wild animals!

(Note: chickens cannot actually surf)
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