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!

 

 

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