A pack of wild chickens has colonized the 600 block of Pierce Street in South Philadelphia. Everyone on the block knows about them — it's impossible not to. From the roosters' first early-morning cock-a-doodle-doos to the final muffled clucking of the brood as it settles down for the night, the chickens make a din that can be heard on either side of the block and, indeed, from a few blocks away. They're everywhere — lurking in the tall grasses of the block's vacant lots, clambering over the concrete walls that separate neighbors' yards, seeking out friendly humans with a bite to eat, escorting the chicks, like ducklings, across the road. Not that 40 is a crazy number. This spring there are babies everywhere, and residents report finding eggs stashed in their yards. The chickens have already colonized both sides of Pierce, and residents say they've seen — or at least heard — chickens on neighboring blocks, as well.
This is in Philadelphia and super, super urban. So actually not around the barn, but I found this amazing and funny, in light of the problems some here on COTH report on keeping chickens alive on farms. I've seen urban chickens, but just runaways and backyard flocks - never heard of them establishing wild colonies before.
The population, it seems, has become self-sustaining. The chickens mate, they lay eggs, they find their own food, raise their own young. They seem to be relatively safe from predators and other urban fauna. "What's interesting," muses Jaime Antonio Jr., "is that we have a lot of cats on the block, and they don't mess with them. You'd think they'd kill them."
At night, the chickens ascend the neighborhood trees and brood there, safe among the branches. In the colder months, they somehow manage not to freeze.
"In the winter, they just sit up in the trees with snow on them," comments resident Sarah Pohlman. "It's wild."
Or, rather, they're wild. The chickens don't belong to anyone and no one, officially at least,takes care of them (they do have, shall we say, friends). They're just there, and most of the neighbors have gotten used to it.
Whence came these chickens?
The answer, according to everyone on the block, is fairly straightforward: They came from whoever used to live at 531 Pierce St., now rented as an apartment under new ownership.
"This guy used to live there, and he had chickens," explains Jaime Antonio Sr. When the man went to jail, Antonio Sr. says, he left behind at least one hen, which Antonio Sr. took upon himself to look after.
"I come in, I give it water and food every day," he explains, "but then the house went to the bank, so I just open the door and let it out."
Meanwhile, Antonio Sr. says, there was this other guy, a block down, who had a rooster (neither still lives in the area, he said).
I saw a flock of 'feral chickens' in Richmond. I think they were actually escapees, there were about 5 of them, I could see their heads popping up out of the grass. Then I noticed a sign for plant your own garden, so maybe they belong to the same people. I almost missed my light when it changed. Are RIR big? I only had bantams and these looked like chicken-zillas.
I think it's pretty cool that they can survive winters, and not get run over and such.