When you go to a Hawaiian Paradise, the last thing you expect is hearing and meeting chickens everywhere. (I keep calling them “chickens” because all I could think about whenever I saw a hen was the girl saying “Look at all those chickens”.)
Well, you’re in for a surprise once you land on Kaua’i. What woke me up in the mornings? The answer is; the cock-a-doodle-doo of the wild roosters. Who welcomed me back at my campsite after a day of exploration? No, it wasn’t any exotic animal; a red-crested cardinal or a gecko. It was, once again, a rooster.
Whether I went to the Opaeka’a Falls or to Nā Pali Coast, they were always there, I could hear them, see them, I almost tripped over one. The chickens truly are omnipresent on Kaua’i. But how did they get there? Why are they all over the island?
Well, because I’m naturally curious, I couldn’t leave this question that was nagging in the back of my mind since I left the airport unanswered. And so, when I was in the Limahuli Garden & Preserve, I asked the friendly woman there about these birds basically claiming Kaua’i their own.
And the answer is pretty simple. Hurricane Iniki (1992) set the hens free from farms together with roosters bred especially for cockfighting. And because, obviously, they were quite the fighters, they managed to survive and thrive in the rainforest. Supposedly, there were some attempts to lessen the population but the birds just claimed the island their own and refused to go back to the “boring” lifestyle they led before their escape.
Locals as well as tourists can’t decide whether the wild chickens are a curse or a blessing. They eat a lot of insects – a lot – and among them Hawaiian centipedes. Believe me, you don’t want to be bitten by these.
But although these birds are considered to be the “unofficial official state birds” on Kaua’i, it’s not very easy to appreciate their presence when they start their almost-demonic cock-a-doodle-doo at 2 in the morning. It’s hard to get some sleep even when you’re sleeping inside a house when they start, according to locals – and imagine that happening right next to your tent! Yes, I’ll admit, I thought I was going to get out and strangle the birds. They’re lucky it was puring really hard so that I didn’t want to do that…
So, now you know it, the dark secret hiding on Kaua’i. I mean; it’s not that bad but if you come bird-watching, be ready for a few obnoxious intruders…
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