What’s the Deal With All These Hawaii Chickens?

Hawaii Chicken on the Beach
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > What’s the Deal With All These Hawaii Chickens?

Hawaii chickens are a part of everyday life here. They wander our streets freely, wake us up with early calls, and often back up traffic as they cross the road.

But why are they here? And why are there so many of them? Let’s investigate…

Urban Chickens

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.
‘ve seen 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 3 am wake-up.

A mother hen sits under a car with her chicks next to her

The Hawaii Chicken Population

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 Hawaii chickens that you can see and hear around Diamond Head. And the City of Honolulu has made efforts to capture the rogue birds and contain the population. The city budgeted for a $50,000 contract to help control the feral chicken population. They’ve had similar contracts before, 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 air horn 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?

Why Are There So Many Chickens in Hawaii?

Chickens first came to Hawaii with the earliest Polynesian settlers. Then, even more arrived during Hawaii’s plantation days. As the sugar plantations closed down, many chickens were released into the Hawaii wild.

Many residents will tell you that Hawaii chickens really grew in numbers with hurricanes, as these disasters allowed for their escape. 

And since the islands don’t have snakes and other typical predators, Hawaii chickens enjoy a relatively safe life. Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t meet their fate at the hands of some local wildlife, many cars, and other unfortunate circumstances. 

And it’s widely accepted that these feral chickens don’t taste good at all, so they are rarely captured for eating or egg laying.

Chicken on Hawaii Beach

Often a Nuisance, Rarely a Danger

For the most part, if you do encounter feral Hawaii 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.