I live in an apartment building a mile outside of Downtown Honolulu, above the loud mutter of morning traffic but not beyond the strangely familiar crow of a seemingly drunken rooster. Visitors to Hawaii might not expect it, but feral chickens are a thing in some residential areas, and even in neighborhoods close to Honolulu’s urban core.
There have been many local broadcast news stories about it, with cute headlines and beleaguered, sleep-deprived kamaaina pleading for relief from the wee-hour calls of a free-range rooster on the prowl.
“I thought it was gonna come in and make a cup of coffee!” said one exasperated Kaneohe resident, bleary eyed after another 3am wakeup.
It’s really not as bad as all of that, though. You can expect to see chickens in any rural part of the world. They outnumber us by billions. And some people have a morbid fear of chickens, like other people have a fear of clowns or politicians. But you can be reasonably certain that a Hawaii vacation won’t be marred by a misfortunate run-in with a potential entrée. It’s not as though you might end up with one in your lap while you enjoy brunch on an idyllic morning in paradise.
Yes, there is a population of feral chickens that can be seen and heard around Diamond Head, and the City of Honolulu has made efforts to capture the rogue birds and contain the population. Admittedly, the City ended the $80,000 contract (you read that right) it paid to capture the pesky poultry, and the birds remain. The ones that have found their way into residential areas have ruined many a night’s sleep, but their presence is mostly benign.
Homeowners and residents have devised a variety of methods to keep feral chickens away. Some get dogs or cats. Others keep an airhorn handy to scare them off. On the Neighbor Islands, feral chickens are a fact of life for residents. The chickens cause more alarm on Oahu, because who’s ever heard of feral, urban chickens?
For the most part, if you do encounter feral chickens, it will be while you’re hiking or camping. They may scamper by while you’re lining up a tee shot (quiet on the tee box!). You’ll find them in unexpected places, maybe along a busy highway or on a quiet, out of the way beach. They might even be bold enough to make a move for your picnic basket. But they pose not even a negligible threat.
Hawaii’s feral chickens are much more of a curiosity than they are a menace.