It’s almost September, National Chicken Month. I adore chickens. Put those two facts together, and I have the perfect opportunity to enlighten you with some chicken trivia.
- Chickens are the most numerous bird species on the planet.
- Wild chickens are still found in south Asia, where birders know them as Red Jungle Fowl. There is also a feral population in Hawaii and in other spots around the world. If you want to check “Jungle Fowl” off your life list, you must find one of these wild birds.
- According to Red Bird Farms, the average American eats 80 pounds of chicken every year. (We prefer the skinless, boneless breast, but other cultures prefer dark meat. Much of our domestically produced dark meat is shipped to other countries.)
- One of the most famous roosters of all time was Mike, the headless chicken. Back in 1954, Mike was living a normal chicken-y life in Fruita, Colorado, when his owner, Lloyd Olsen, decided to have him for dinner. Mike lost his head over the incident, but that didn’t stop him from attempting to scratch, peck, and in general continue acting like his old self. (It seems his brain stem remained attached to his body.) In this compromised condition, he not only survived, he thrived!—for an additional 18 months! Now Fruita sponsors a yearly festival in his honor. You can read all about Mike on his own website.
- There’s a town called Chicken in Alaska. The year-round population is usually between 17 and 37, depending on who you ask. Miners in the summer boost the population up to over 100. According to their website:
In the late 1800’s, early miners traveled far in search of gold. Food was sometimes scarce, but a particular area near the South Fork of the 40-Mile River was abundant in Ptarmigan, now the state bird, which bears a resemblance to a chicken. (Ah the foreshadowing is thicker than steel.) The miners kept themselves alive with the help of the Ptarmigan (if you consider being eaten as helping.)
In 1902, Chicken was to become incorporated, the second town in Alaska to do so. The name “Ptarmigan” was suggested. Many people liked the name, but felt the quotation marks were too presumptuous. The name was shortened to Ptarmigan. The only problem was that nobody could agree on the correct spelling.
They didn’t want their town name to be the source of ridicule and laughter, so they decided on “Chicken.” (The irony is thicker than the foreshadowing.)
- Why do chicken coops have two doors? If they had four doors, they’d be a sedan.