Key West Gypsy Chickens

 

Birding the past three months in Florida was unbelievably memorable.  It is the prime time for a vast number of many bird species, both residents and migrants.

Since my first post in January (except for a handful), I have shared a different bird each post.  If I counted correctly and including this post, I shared photos of 55 species of birds.  🙂

Sigh…..   We’ve departed Florida as was planned, but with the COVID-19 virus chaos at home in Maryland and the northeast U.S., along with discussions with our children, it was deemed best for us to relocate with our RV on a lot we own in the upcountry of South Carolina, where it’s remote and hopefully safer.

As we settle in where Spring is springing, I’ll be going through my photos for many favorites to continue to share from Florida.

 

And now on with some photos…..
Welcome wild chickens added as #205 to my birding lifer list.

 

If you’ve been to Key West, you’ve undoubtedly seen and heard the feral Key West chickens that roam freely around the island.  The feral fowl, locally known as Gypsy Chickens, are the perfect metaphor for Key West — historic, colorful, sort of wild, a little noisy, and occasionally annoying.

 

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Key West “Gypsy” Chickens (male and female)

 

These chickens are descendants of jungle fowl that originated in Cuba and the Caribbean islands, brought to Key West and used as food and for the sport of cockfighting.  When cockfighting became illegal in the 1970’s, they were released to fend for themselves.

 

“Gypsy Chicks”

 

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“Out for a walk with Mama”

 

Key West established a ‘no-kill’ law, so it didn’t take long for the population of chickens to explode on their two-by-four mile island.

 

 

The Key West Wildlife Center takes care of the feral chickens, rescuing, rehabilitating and relocating them to mainland farms to live free range just like they do in Key West, but safe from traffic and harm.

 

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Key West Chicken (male)

 

“They crow at all hours,” says Debbie Britten, a volunteer at the Key West Wildlife Center. “They’re like some of the people down here – they don’t know when to quit.”

 

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“Cock-a-doodle-doo”

 

Her statement is absolutely true!

 

 

53 thoughts on “Key West Gypsy Chickens

  1. What beautiful, colorful birds. I especially like the ‘out for a walk with mama’ photo as well as the next to last photo of the male. Thank you for sharing and all of the information as well.

  2. Glad you have a place to hunker down. It’s a really challenging time for many full-time RVers. Love that last statement … ‘don’t know when to quit’. I know a few people like that 😆

  3. I was laughing as I read the comments comparing the chickens to the people. The chickens certainly are colourful, and I really like the back view of Mamma and her chicks. I can see the story there. The time in Florida seems longer, the world has changed so much since the beginning of your stay that it must have been a shock to come from vacation and experience the changes. Glad you are safe.

    • Glad I gave you a chuckle, Jane! The chicks with Mama is one of my favorites, was just so cute. Yes, it feels like we came back to a different reality of life. We’ll be good, stay safe as well!

  4. I’m sorry that your visit to Florida is over, Where you go now I hope it is safe and has many birds. The Key West Chickens story is similar to the Iguanas in Florida. All your photos are great, the “Out for a walk with Mama” is my favorite. 🙂

    • Thank you, HJ! I took a final outing adventure to the FL remote locations that became favorites for one last hoorah and goodbye. 😊 For the past two weeks, the bird activity had changed considerably, as many of the birds had left for their migration to northern breeding grounds. AND it was in the high 80’s to low 90’s, SO it was time to go! LOL I do love the chicks and Mama going for a walk too, just too darn cute.

  5. I have been to Key West and have seen the chickens but did not know how they got there. Great post. Love, “Out for a walk with Mama”, “Key West Chicken” (male) and “Cock-a-doodle-doo”!

  6. Reminds me a lot of our stay on Norfolk Island where they have wild chooks they call Jungle Fowl, which are similar like these, probably released when people left the island or the penal colony was disbanded. They roam the island and are seen throughout the rain forest and under houses. We had a rooster under our villa there which crowed at 3am, he was not very popular. Glad you are finding shelter in a quieter place Donna. Keeping you all in our prayers daily.

    • Does sound like the same scenario, I had also heard the Key West chickens were also called Jungle Fowl. These roosters crow all day long and through the night too. It gets quite hilarious….except for those night crowing! lol Thank you, Ashley, we are good now for a while, keeping you and yours in my prayers too.

    • Thank you, Eliza! The chicks are cuties, and not knowing what us humans are, they do stay tight with their Mamas. But the roosters, well, they will stand their ground and will not move (reminds me of Bison lol), and sometimes in protest give out a loud cock-a-doodle-do and scare the bejebees out of ya! One did me! 😅

  7. What gorgeous colors on those roosters and cute captures with the chicks, although sad how they came to be loose in KW.

    I was happy to read you’ve made it safely to your SC digs. You’ll have some shock with fewer birds and some cool nights yet but who knows what you might see!

    • Thank you, Ellen! It’s great that the KW Wildlife Center does watch out for them. If a resident is having a problem with one or more, they’ll capture them humanely and take them to a farm for a wonderful life there. 🙂

      Yes, boy it got chilly quick in two days, lol. We were in the high 80’s/low 90’s when we left the Everglades. The birds were lessening too rather quickly, many had already headed north for the summer, the swamps & marshes were beginning to look like a ghost town! I haven’t gotten out yet here in SC with my camera, but I’ve been watching and listening to the Cardinals. I think my trigger finger is getting itchy….. 😉

      • I didn’t realize it tapered off that much, bird wise, in the Everglades area, and actually never thought I wanted to be there when it was that warm 🙂 .

        I hope you have somewhere safe nearby to scratch that itch and that the Cardinals visit closer. We are looking forward to the COVID situation changing so we can get out into the wilds.

  8. Hi Donna, these chooks are delightful, so colourful! I love your photo of the little ones out walking with their mum, just adorable. Hope you are in a good place to stay safe and well now during these times. All the national parks and reserves here are closed, including my treasured Wetlands, so I’m sorting through my old photos too as I miss my wildlife encounters. 🙂

    • Thank you, Sue! We’re in a good spot now, just going to wait it out for a while before going home. I’m guessing much is closed where we’re at now, but I’ve got tons of photos to sort through for more from my past three months in Florida! Sorry to hear your Wetlands is closed, wildlife is great for our heart and soul. Stay well and safe, my friend! 🙂

  9. Love the colors of the feathers on the rooster. Just a little wild and crazy indeed.

    Wishing you safety and health… loads of it! It’s good you have a place to hunker down in these trying times.

    • Thank you, Gunta, they fit in nicely with the crazy funkness of Key West!

      Thanks for well wishes, same to you and Eric, be safe and well! I’m a bit upset we’re not making it home for Easter and everyone getting together for dinner, but chats with kids and parents, and video-chatting with the grandsons is helping a lot! 🙂 How lucky we are to have this technology through the pandemic.

    • Thank you, Ted! It’s chilly at night, but the day’s have been gorgeous. And seeing Spring springing is nice! Hope you both can get out to some haunts soon, I’m sure the alligators are missing you!

    • Thank you, Indira! When they relocate any of these chickens, they are prized for their eggs as food on the mainland too. But the chickens themselves are supposed to be ‘spared’. 😊

  10. Great shots, Donna. I particularly love the mother and chicks. They look as if they are walking to school! I am glad to hear that you will be somewhere safe and peaceful until this is all over. 😁

        • Glad to hear you’re in a good area for safety, Imorgana. Unfortunately, I am filled with personal worry, our daughter and son-in-law are both hospital healthcare workers and both are actively caring for only COVID-19 patients. I pray daily and often for their and our 3 yr old grandson’s safety that they cannot isolate from. I wish as a mother, one of them could be allowed to stay home with our grandson and isolate from the other, as many healthcare workers get to do. 😞 Thank goodness, my other kids, grandkids, and our parents are staying isolated.

    • Thank you, Irene! We will, it’s a lovely area and the Spring birds here are already ‘catching my eye’. The trigger finger is getting itchy! 😉 Stay well and safe too!

    • Thank you, Belinda! We’ve made it to our present location, we’ll stay here indefinitely until it’s safe to return home up north. Just hope it’s not into late summer, it gets so darn hot here! 😩 😉

  11. So sorry to hear of your worries, Donna. I hope that all your family remains well, despite everything. I shall add them into my prayers tonight.

  12. Donna, your photos really bring out the brilliant colors of these Gypsy Chickens. Stay safe, and hopefully you can return to Maryland sooner than later. I am quite familiar with some of the Eastern Shore so I am looking forward to returning in the future.

  13. I had no idea Key West had feral chickens. That’s funny. Our Outer Banks have feral horses.

    Beautiful birds. Mama with her babies is adorable. We have neighbors with chickens here in town and, even though they are not supposed to have roosters, there are a couple that crow quite a bit. They don’t bother me.

    The remarks about the chickens are hysterical and I like the history of them (history buff that I am…😉).

    I am pleased that you are headed to the SC hills. Good place to be. It appears that large breakouts are in the compacted cities. There won’t be a lot of cases in rural areas. This small town is still functioning to a degree. Restaurants & other businesses are closed but, there is a lot of takeout & delivery. The local farmers have stepped up to help since the farmers markets closed.

    People still walk their dogs or go running. Our Riverwalk is still open but, the dog park is closed. The yard mowers are out & still working.

    As far as I know, there is not a single case here.

    Looking forward to some SC pix. Glad you are safe. Hope your family stays safe. 🤗😁💕

    • Thank you, Vic! Real funny when you have one of those KW roosters coming at you and stop, give you a good looking, then start crowing right at you, as if to say, “Get out of my way!” 😅

      Glad to hear things are tolerable where you’re at. How are your grocery stores’ stock? I had to go yesterday 30 miles, it’d been almost 4 weeks since my last shopping and need prescriptions. With SC declaring Stay Home law in last days, the grocery store shelves were empty. Got what I could, but meats were scarce, no hamburger at all. Not sure how to survive without hamburger, lol. Guess we’ll find out! 😝

      Thank you much for well wishes, Vic, you stay well and safe too! 😍

      • Heh. Pushy Rooster. 😆

        Our local Weaver Street Market stays stocked for the most part. They have a lot of local stuff so, delivery is local. They are a bit high dollar and don’t have the selection that, say, a Harris Teeter might. The Food Lions here are struggling. I haven’t seen any TP, paper towels, rubbing alcohol, HP or Clorox/Lysol wipes in a month…or more. FL gave up trying to stock the alcohol & HP and put up signs. I went to Costco last month, seeing where things were going and they were only missing TP, rice, sugar & Clorox wipes. IDK what that place looks like now.

        Could you do an online search for some local farms to your area? localharvest.com is a great source to find farms all over the US.

        Hugs! 🤗💕

  14. Pingback: Key West Gypsy Chickens — Photos by Donna – Sarah's Attic Of Treasures

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