The Chicken Saga

We arrived several weeks ago to find that chickens have taken up residence in the apartment complex where we stay when we visit the coast. Domestic chickens gone wild, it seems. Feral chickens!

In May or June one lone hen arrived. She must have had a good time for herself before she came, because she immediately made a nest and hatched eight chicks. Several of our friends here were charmed by the little brood and have been feeding the chickens. Another of the neighbors drives fifteen miles to a feed and seed to get the chickens the right kind of food.

By the time we got here, the mom hen had departed and left the chicks to fend for themselves. The ones who prospered had grown into five beautiful young birds, blue-black and brown, with bright red combs. Unfortunately, the first week we were here we had a very bad storm with howling winds. The speculation was that one of the chickens ended up “gone with the wind,” so to speak. My husband Tom, unfortunately, found grizzly evidence that it had come to a far more gruesome end.

Anyway, the four remaining chickens — two hens and two roosters — have chosen to settle for the night in the trees right opposite our back windows. At dusk we repair to the kitchen to watch them come, pecking and swaying, to settle for the night. To reach the trees the chickens must climb a tall fence and hop up into the trees that grow just on the opposite side. They may be handsome birds, but they’re not good fliers. Yet somehow they manage to hop and flap up onto the cross-braces, then up onto the top rail of the fence, which is about six feet off the ground. Finally, they climb onto one of the sturdy lower branches of the trees. Once there, they inch their way higher and higher, like tightrope walkers. There is much flapping and squawking until everyone is settled. As they do, we cackle at their antics. (Pun fully intended.)

We have heard reports that they start crowing about 5:30 A.M., though you couldn’t prove it by either of us. Their presence has begun to divide the people in the complex into pro-chicken and anti-chicken factions. The anti-chicken group called the pest man to catch the birds and take them away (probably to his stew pot), but he couldn’t seem to locate them. Naturally, the pro-chicken faction refused to offer him any help.

I know attrition will eventually get all of them, but in the meantime we are enjoying the nightly chicken ballet — and trying to remember not to park for the night under that particular group of trees.

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