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The chickens or the rocks?

Chickens rule the roost on Kauai. This is definitely chicken nirvana territory.

There are chickens absolutely everywhere. Kauai chickens must be equivalent to New Zealand sheep.

From the early 1980’s, when NZ was home to over 70 million sheep, the population has declined to around 40 million. This means the oft-quoted statistic, that NZ has 20 sheep for each human, is wrong! Nowadays it’s only about 10 to 1.
Source: Interesting facts about New Zealand

We first noticed these ‘free range’ chickens as soon as we left the buildings at Lihue Airport. Initially I was fascinated by them and their colours. As time went by I noticed that I accepted them as part of the landscape – they almost became invisible to me.

We would be walking along and there were chickens. We would be eating a meal and there were chickens. We would be shopping, swimming, driving and there were chickens. They didn’t bother us in any way. We did our thing and they did what most people seemed to do on this Hawaiian Island – took it easy and enjoyed their day.

Kauai chickens: The freest free range chickens of all!
Source: Metroblogging Hawaii post by macpro

There is no agreed to explanation for the existence of these ‘free range’ chickens. However, two stories predominate.

The first story connects to the fact that there are no mongooses on Kauai.

Back in 1883 rats were a pest in the sugar cane fields of Hawaii. To help control these rats, and other pests, mongooses were imported from the West Indies. However, the crate bearing the mongooses bound for Kauai only got as far as Nawiliwili Harbour. The story goes that a mongoose bit one of the dockhands. He dropped the entire crate into the sea so none of the animals ever made it to land. Even today Kauai is still the only major Hawaiian island without a mongoose population. Meanwhile the mongooses are happily nibbling away at the chicken populations on all the other Hawaiian islands while Kauai’s chickens roam free and live happily ever after.

Hurricane InikiThe second story has to do with a hurricane.

In 1992 Hurrican Iniki caused extensive damage in Kauai. It was also indirectly blamed for a change to the island’s ecosystem because chickens and Filipino fighting fowl were freed from their cages. There is also an unsubstantiated story that these fowl were released by their owners when cock fighting was outlawed and that it had nothing to do with the hurricane. Anyhow these birds decided to check each other out as they were enjoying their new found freedom. They bred – well what else was there for them to do? – and created the chickens which rule Kauai while growing fat and sassy on fallen fruit and earwigs.

There is too much fighting fowl in each one for the meat to be edible, and to much domestic chicken for the damned things to be worth a spectator sport. They are sort of a feathered version of the Cowardly Lion.

Each year, there are more. And more. The roads are getting slippery with road kill, but the damned tourists feed the stupid things at roadside viewing places and the local chapter of Concerned Citizens protests their killing. The tourists swerve to miss them, and the locals swerve to hit them. The roads are filled with swerving motorists, only a few of whom are high on Maui Wowie.

Source: Allen Polk Hemphill

You must be wondering whether there is a lot of chicken being consumed on Kauai; I know I did!

It appears that no-one eats these chickens; neither humans nor animal predators. I did come across one recipe for cooking these chickens:

Kauai Wild Chicken Recipe

1 Kauai wild chicken
1 large onion
1 bunch seasoning spices of your choosing
1 large rock
Salt and pepper

Put all ingredients into a large covered pot. Simmer over a low flame for several hours. Remove the rock. Discard the chicken. Eat the rock.

Source: Kauai chickens and roosters

The chickens must be incredibly tough if the rock is the more preferable option.

By the way, the rocks on Kauai are magnificent. These lava rocks are a rich black colour typifying the volcanic nature of the land.

Geologically, Kaua’i is more complicated than any of the other Hawaiian islands. It is split by gigantic faults, lavas ponded in piles thousands of feet thick against ancient cliff scarps, an incredibly thick section of highly-alkalic post-erosional lavas cover two-thirds of the land, canyons that rival the Grand Canyon in depth and scenery, and enormous cliffs come down to meet the sea along 25 mile wilderness coastlines. Add a blanket of luxurious green vegetation and try to decipher its geologic history.

Kauai, like the other Hawaiian islands, is the product of a mantle plume, or hotspot, that brings hot rock up from deep in the mantle towards the surface. As this hot rock rises, it melts, and this melt segregates and forms magma that moves towards the surface, then erupts as lava, pouring out over the ocean floor. From the sequence of lava compositions and structural, magnetic, and chemical compositions of the lavas, we can tell alot about how the plume works, and how these volcanoes are built and destroyed.

The black volcanic rocks around Kalihiwai Beach

More rocks around Kalihiwai Beach

The cliff face on the other side of Kalihiwai Beach

Secret Beach, Kilauea

Amiel sitting on the rocks at Secret Beach, Kilauea

More rocks from the North Shore of Kauai

Magical places driving along the North Shore of Kauai

Manini-holo dry cave, Ha’ena, North Kauai

This dry cave is one of several sea caves located in the area. The cave, which is about 300 yards deep, used to be much larger but the 1957 tsunami partially filled it with sand. Legend states that Manini-holo, chief fisherman of the Menehune (little people) dug this cave in search of the supernatural beast, akua, who had been stealing their fish. In actuality, the ocean used to be much higher and these caves were formed from thousands of years of ocean waves beating against the lava and etching away the rock.

Manini-holo dry cave, Haena, North Kauai

Manini-holo dry cave, Haena, North Kauai

Lynsey at the entrance to the dry cave at Haena, North Kauai

Both the chickens and the rocks are a significant part of the Kauai experience.

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