Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Feral chicken tales

The feral chickens that roam the woods around where we live (and pretty much most of the city) are descended from domesticated chickens that were themselves still pretty close to the ancestor of all domesticated chickens, the red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus). As a result, they are strikingly fledged, the males with plumed metallic green tails and extravagant ruffs in gold or red. You get the sense of how these fowl are related to other, showier birds like the ring-necked pheasant. Still, a chicken is still more or less a chicken. They are not particularly wily and are prone to idiotic behavior.

This past weekend I was doing the laundry at the laundromat, which is on the floor of the valley where we live, in a small shopping center surrounded by a parking lot. The parking lot is planted with monkeypod trees for shade. Somehow a feral rooster had wandered out of the woods and into the parking lot, and had gotten spooked up into one of these trees, probably by a passing car. He obviously had no idea how to get down or what to do about his predicament, and sat in the tree crowing robustly for the time it took me to wash and dry several loads.

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