Feral chickens roam Kauai’s jungles and beaches with impunity. But as I gaze into their eyes and try to plum the modest depths of their minds I feel certain these birds have no appreciation whatsoever for just how fortunate they are. With few predators, a mild climate and abundant food, these chickens have got it good.
It wasn’t long after I moved here that I stopped noticing the chickens. While they seem novel to visitors, island residents take no more notice of them than mainlanders might take of a pigeon. So when we started finish work on a guesthouse recently, I barely noticed the hen and her brood scratching around in the leaves. But it seems these were an especially curious bunch and pretty soon they started hopping up on the plywood deck and bobbing their heads inquisitively. It became lunchtime entertainment to watch their inner struggle between fear of getting to close to us and hunger for the crumbs we would leave for them. For one chicken in particular, hunger won out decisively and before long it was eating from our hands.
We only feed them at lunch, but they come around at all times of the day now, freely wandering around the house looking for a handout. Apparently, they’ve concluded that we’re more likely to give them food then we are to eat them.
I’ll be moving on from this job soon so I won’t get to see how the chicken drama unfolds, but the other guys have nicknamed the favorite chicken Boreas.