This lovely hen, and a few of her babies, were part of a small community of free ranging chickens we seen on certain streets when we go bike riding. She had at least a dozen. I never succeeded in getting the whole family in one shot.
When we first moved to our current house, we thought we would be leaving behind the enjoyable scenery of our last neighborhood, where blocks from our place, we could see sheep, horses, chickens, etc, right in the heart of the city kind of. Well, on one of our first bike rides around the new ‘hood, we discovered an area that must have been outside any city limits at one time and people kept all of those animals as well as one cow we’ve seen! Now, the area is part of one of the cities near the Phoenix area, but the livestock privileges must have been continued. The plots of land are for the most part pretty big.
The chickens were sometimes in people’s fenced back yards, visible not up close. But quite a few were living loose. We could hear them, too. They were wary of us, often clucking a warning as we slowly rode by, rubbernecking: “Buh GAK uk uk!” One time as I rode alone at dusk, I heard a chicken utter this alarm call from high up in a huge pine tree.
The hen and chicks were part of the free ranging group, and not surprisingly they resembled the wild jungle fowl (ancestor of the domestic chicken), that I’ve seen in zoos. Perhaps the free ranging life favored the wild traits, that were not so often seen in the fenced in kinds. Inside the fences were more of the fancy and specialized breeds. Plump white hens especially. Whether there for protection, or they didn’t do well as free rangers, or both, I can only speculate.
It is quite true though, that the industry breeds some very distorted varieties that cannot even live normal lives, e.g. broiler breeds that can’t walk and tend to have heart attacks from all that weight and stress on their organs. You can read about that horror here: http://www.tamarakenneallyphotography.com/category/chickens/broiler-chickens/
Then, too, there are fancy breeds like Silkies, that may or may not do well in a free range life, but are precious pets most times, and unlikely to be found wandering. I myself have had pet chickens, long ago, and my all time favorite was my Silkie hen, Ferguson. She certainly had a bold personality and intelligence, as well as a great capacity for affection. I shall try to find an old pic of her for this blog sometime.