The Surprising Origins of Hawaii's Feral Chickens

Genetic tests reveal where they came from.

By Rachel Hartigan
Published 9 Apr 2019, 00:40 BST
Photograph by Marie Magee
This story appears in the June 2018 issue of National Geographic magazine.

Thousands of feral chickens inhabit Kauai, but their origin was long a mystery. Did they descend from red jungle fowl that Polynesians brought to Hawaii some 1,000 years ago or from farmed birds that flew the coop more recently? According to genetic tests, a mix of both, says biologist Eben Gering. Breeding these feral chickens with domestic ones could add welcome genetic diversity and make farm-raised fowl hardier, he says.

Read More

You might also like

Environment and Conservation
Meet the bowhead whale hunters of northern Alaska
Perpetual Planet
She Fought for a Shark Sanctuary. But Does It Work?
This Is What Daily Life in North Korea Looks Like
The Falkland Islands Preserve Wildlife and Habitat After War
‘We helped students heal from the abrupt way their year ended’

Explore Nat Geo

  • Animals
  • Environment
  • History & Culture
  • Science
  • Travel
  • Photography
  • Space
  • Adventure
  • Video

About us


  • Magazines
  • Newsletter
  • Disney+

Follow us

Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society. Copyright © 2015-2021 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved