Chickens in the Virgin Islands

September 25, 2011
Trunk Bay

We just arrived home last night from our trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands.  As we set off last Friday evening, I said to my husband that I hoped to see some chickens on our adventures.  I thought for certain that we would discover at least one chicken hiding in a backyard.   I doubted that I would come across chickens in such a secluded place.   I could not have been more wrong.

In addition to having mongoose, wild donkeys, lizards galore and a plethora of hermit crabs, the island was inundated with feral chickens.  I could not believe my eyes when I arrived at St. Johns and saw chicken roaming the streets.  Skittish of humans and the like, the chickens roam freely.  Everywhere I blinked there was another chicken.
Streets of St. Thomas
Baby pullet at a local restaurant looking for her Mama
Pretty girl in the grass
The chickens appear to small bantams mostly.  There are plenty of roosters too.  It was not uncommon to see a rooster with a few henny girls by his side.  I even saw a few roosters living together forming larger flocks of about 20 chickens.   My husband chuckled at one point, and thought that I had died and gone to chicken heaven!
Chickens at the Westin
Rooster foraging for scraps

I was able to capture some photos of the chickens from the two islands that we visited, St. Johns and St. Thomas.  Many of them forage for food scraps and through open roll off containers that hold the garbage of the island’s residents.

Mama hen and chicks foraging near dumpster

Seeing the chickens was a little bittersweet for me.  I was happy that there were so many, but I was also saddened by the fact that they were fearful of humans, foraging for their food and were seen as a nuisance by the locals.  If only the locals could begin to keep some of these chickens in their backyard and enjoy their eggs.

Heading into the underbrush

The most amazing thing though was when I recognized the chicken alarm.  I have heard it too many times at home to not recognize when the flock is in danger.  At home, I always investigate when I hear it.  I get a burst of mommy adrenaline and fly out to see what the flock fears.  Typically, it is a large bird or a chipmunk foraging near the run.  One unassuming  day,  I heard one of the island’s chickens sound the alarm in the distance.   I was taken by surprise when I got a burst of mommy adrenaline.  Yet, there was nothing I could do.  No one to protect.  No one to rescue.  It made me realize how much the chickens truly are part of our family.  Instinctually, I was ready to spring into action.

Rooster strutting past above ground cemetery
Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest


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10 thoughts on “Chickens in the Virgin Islands”

  1. Awesome pictures, beautiful chickens. I bet you wanted to scoop up a few hens to take back home. Do the locals forage for the hens eggs?
    I'm glad you enjoyed yourself and glad your home safely!

  2. Oh thank you so much all for the warm welcome home!

    I felt the same way From Beyond My Kitchen Window.

    Maryann, I sure did want to scoop some up. They were truly wild and fearful of humans. The locals sometimes find the eggs but they do not eat them because they cannot be certain of the age or if there are partially developed babies in them.

    Wow, Debra, what a small world!

  3. *sigh* They are cute, but they also do a lot of damage to the native wildlife, especially regarding islands. It happens though, for some reason or another and these sweet creatures go from being helpful to hurtful.

    Glad you had a wonderful trip, even happier you are back!!

  4. Anne, you are absolutely right! Funny, for some reason, now that I think about it, I do not recall seeing any of them in the National Park portion of the island. I wonder why. Maybe they control the population as they do to the mongoose…or maybe there is not much food/garbage to eat.

  5. Hi Dominique, most of the chickens on the island are feral. There is no garbage company so the US government places large roll off dumpsters in strategic locations around the island for trash. The chickens have a source of food all the time with those. The only predator on the island is the mongoose, but those populations are controlled by the government as well. Baby chicks are hatching in a warm tropical environment every 21 days. They have ample food and few predators. I think these reasons combined equal a great place for chickens to run free and thrive.


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