I’ve written about this before, but this work is a larger piece created for my April Napa Library event.
The chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) is a type of domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the red junglefowl. It is one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, with a population of more than 19 billion as of 2011. Humans keep chickens primarily as a source of food, consuming both their meat and their eggs.
Chickens are omnivores. In the wild, they often scratch at the soil to search for seeds, insects and even animals as large as lizards, small snakes or young mice.
The Domestic chicken has been bred and loved by human kind for centuries. Most would not consider it an endangered species, but the Livestock Conservancy tracks breeds that are in danger of extinction. The much-loved Rhode Island Red, for example, is on their Watch list. My Barnyard Rooster was actually inspired by the flocks of chickens I saw wandering all over the Hawaiian Islands. There was one chicken who would wander into our hotel room in the early morning if we left the screen door open. The tale is told that the hurricanes that periodically hit the islands have distributed these charismatic birds throughout the landscape. Being omnivores, they manage to find food sources everywhere and have thrived, much to the annoyance of some tourists and locals alike who do not enjoy their shrill crowing calls in the early morning.