Tuesday, October 01, 2013
by Corinna of TheFrogBag
Photos courtesy of ARKIVE.ORG
Meet the Red Jungle Fowl
Ever take a really good look at a group of chickens? Not hens trapped in an egg laying assembly line, but a backyard rooster and his flock? If so, you may have detected something of an attitude from your feathered friends. Chickens, left to their own devices, are scrappy. They’re happy to forage as well as consume chicken feed. And they may even hunt, as I once saw a rooster in Florida do with a lizard, acting exactly like the small dinosaur that all birds really are.
Spending time with chickens like these, it’s not hard to detect the original wild bird under the layers of selective breeding. And that bird still walks the planet, known to science as Gallus gallus, the red junglefowl.
Red junglefowl look a lot like skinny chickens, only more so. The males are more brightly colored, the females more alert, and their “pecking system” is quite literal, with successful males holding territories and a harem of three to five hens. They are native to Southern Asia, but often interbreed with domestic chickens and can be domesticated themselves. There are five distinct subspecies but all of them prefer tropical or semitropical habitat, despite the fact that they can be found in the foothills of the Himalayas too.
Junglefowl in general are quite adaptable, actually preferring secondary forest to pristine jungle. The biggest threat to the species lies not in habitat loss as is so often the case, but in hybridization with domesticated and feral chickens. The World Pheasant Association has started a studbook to keep track of the DNA of captive red junglefowl, hoping to preserve the species from “genetic” extinction.
So go ahead and take a second look the next time you spot a chicken. If she gives you a bit of attitude in return smile and congratulate her on retaining a spark of untamed wildness despite all our attempts at domestication.
Posted by Brizel Handcrafts on Tuesday, October 01, 2013