In my area of the island of Maui, there is a lady known as The Chicken Lady. She is a good friend of mine. There are probably several so-called chicken ladies here, but I’m talking about the one in Kihei.
Kihei is the Waikiki of Maui, more or less. There are subdivisions with houses and roads, but there are also many condominiums for tourists. Among all the tourist-related shops and condominium buildings, there are small segments of Kihei that have forests and meadows. These areas look pristine as they did in the days when Maui royalty and young warriors walked this little place on earth.
But here in 2010, and for the past several years, every day at 5:00 p.m. — and between — Uwapo Road and Kanani Road. There are forests on each side of this road, as there are on many of the lower roads in Kihei. Black-crowned night herons and Hawaiian stilts share the upper part of the forest canopy between dusk and dawn, but during the day they fly to freshwater ponds several blocks away. My friend parks where the forest begins on the right shoulder of the road facing the mountains, in other words heading towards mauka. The red birds of the jungle live here and also across the road. Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus) lives throughout the island of Maui and the other Hawaiian Islands. They are from the pheasant family and were originally found in India, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia. They have been in the Hawaiian Islands for centuries They have been in the Hawaiian Islands for centuries. The males are colorful with red feathers on the head and chest. Males have purple and turquoise tail feathers. The hens are various shades of beige and brown which camouflage them well.
It’s quite a sight to see her arrive, driving 15-20 miles per hour in her little red car. The chickens and chicks on the right side of the road see her coming, so they start running to meet her. She has to walk past them and then swerve to the right shoulder so she doesn’t run over the thirsty and hungry chicks or her mother. There may be an identical red car in front of her two blocks before she gets there, but the chickens just stand there and wait. They know the unique sound of the car from her. When they see her car a block away and check to themselves that it’s her car’s engine they’re hearing, they and her chick run forward. The roosters stay back and watch.
People drive by and some cheer on the racing hens and chicks. Random male drivers in pickup trucks speed past, some clutching their steering wheels with their right elbow and right wrist, their heads poking at odd angles out the driver’s door window, obscenities pouring out of their mouths, and then they yell, “The crazy chicken lady.” It seems that the weirdest men on Maui have something against Junglefowl’s survival. They also seem to intensely dislike any middle-aged woman in a baggy dress feeding chickens with her hair tied up in a bun or maybe it’s just this middle-aged woman they dislike. My friend ignores the cheering and taunting.
She has told her friends, when asked, that she mainly goes to put fresh water in containers for the birds because they are thirsty. As soon as she pours the water, they run to take their first sips of water of the day. She knows that Junglefowl can forage for insects on the forest floor, but she feels sorry for the hens, chicks, and roosters if they don’t have water in this hot, humid weather. And she, she reasons, since she’s there anyway, she might as well throw some chicken her way.
She has to be agile when she arrives. She stops the car and very quickly pulls the lever next to the driver’s seat to open the trunk. He grabs his gallon-sized water jug from the passenger seat, jumps out of the car, runs to the back of the car, opens the trunk door, pulls out a bowl full of chicken rinds, dumps the contents into the birds so that to the right, he refills the bowl and trots down the street with a chicken crackling in one hand and a heavy pitcher of water in the other. This is how everything goes when everything goes well.
If traffic is coming, he can’t cross, so he has to yell at the chickens and roosters across the street to stay there. They are quite upset that the chickens on the right side of the road always feed first. There are usually chicks to feed on the right hand side of the road and if the mother hens don’t feed quickly, they run to the middle of the road with their young screeching and peeping behind.
There’s a rooster on the left side of the road that someone dropped there recently and won’t wait another second if my friend can’t get across the road immediately. This rooster is not a Junglefowl. He is kind of a variety of the mainland and is very determined to be the first one he greets. My friend often has to stop traffic by raising her arm and hand in the air so she can get to the other side very quickly, since the rooster is already halfway there. Once she reaches the other side, he follows her there and tries to get in front of her to beg her to pet him. She doesn’t pet him. She throws chicken scrapings at him, but he ignores her at first and follows her as she rinses the water bowls, refills the water bowls, and tosses chicken scrapings to the waiting birds. So here are the simple techniques and strategies my friend uses to feed and water the jungle fowl in her little corner of Maui: give them water, give them a little food, and give them kindness for what little time they are able to. enjoy the life. And doing everything she could to protect them from the road they planned to live on long before she got to Maui. For this purpose, she places the bowls of water and the chicken scratch through the high fence to the forest side.
For some reason, you rarely see a chick on the left side of the road, although there has been one lately. It’s hard to say why the chicks on the left side of the road don’t survive more than a day or two, but the chicks on the right side of the road do.
Teenage Junglefowl roosters also disappear from both sides of the road from time to time. There are more than 30 cats on each side of the road being fed by the colony keepers, a husband and wife team, every night after dark. But there are also other predators in the forest. They are men and their sons who set snares every month or two to catch young roosters and take them home. These men raise young roosters to adulthood so they can field defenseless birds in cockfights. With the traps set by men, hens and chicks are sometimes inadvertently caught. They let them go, most likely, when they come for their trapped young male birds. Unfortunately, many cats have also become trapped in the plastic string of the fishing reel. Most cats die of hunger and suffering. I know of a cat that bit its paw and was found by a cat sitter, checked out by the Humane Society of Maui and given a clean bill of health. That’s a rare happy story in the woods of trapped victims.
There are also cases where moms and dads go to the forest together and manage to catch or catch some young hens in order to bring them home to join their backyard hens and the ruling rooster. There is poverty on Maui so this is an understandable self reliant decision of a family and I don’t think people are predators who just want to feed their families by earning a few more laying hens.
But the men who pull up in their big pickup trucks with their impressionable young kids and screech their tires and drive off, when my friend pulls up; These are the people I call predators. Maui police can easily see who these cockfighters are because they have blue barrels set up in their yards with roosters chained to the side of the blue barrels upside down. If there is a family on Maui that has this type of organization and they are really just raising roosters for the purpose of selling them to people who raise chickens, I apologize in advance. This may be the case in a few cases on the islands and they are exempt from the description I now give. There isn’t a particular ethnicity here in the Hawaiian Islands that believes it is the right of their cultures, as Haiku’s Georgie Fong says, to enslave, imprison and kill roosters; no, there are many who believe that it is their right. Of course, not all people within those ethnicities support cockfighting. I am not aware of any survey that shows whether the supporters of cockfighting in each ethnic group are in the minority or in the majority. If such surveys have been conducted, I would like to know the results of those surveys.
AND WHAT ABOUT THIS COCK FIGHT?
Bets are made behind the scenes. The place of the next cockfight is planned. How many police officers in the Maui Police Department know about the event in advance and choose not to attend and not arrest those involved, instead turning a blind eye? I don’t know. How many police officers in the Maui Police Department (and other police departments in the Hawaiian Islands) place bets on this so-called sport? I don’t know. I hope the answer is none. But events are held regularly. Two roosters are drugged in a state of aggression. Razor blades are tied to their legs and they are forced to begin their fight to the death. This is pure, unadulterated cruelty to animals. It is also negligence of parents towards their children if any of these parents take their children or teenagers to cockfights. But that last statement may just be my opinion. The first statement is not an opinion. Cockfighting is a misdemeanor under Hawaii state law, punishable by a maximum fine of $2,000 and one year in prison.
In April of this year a resolution (HCR277) was passed supporting cockfighting as a cultural activity. The resolution was introduced by three representatives who stated that cockfighting is a national sport in the Philippines and a “cherished tradition in many cultures around the world.” There was strong opposition from animal groups to the resolution. The spokesperson for the Maui Humane Society, for example, claimed that cockfighting is not cultural and is a cruel crime. It’s hard to believe the resolution passed, but it did, due to consideration by the House Committee on Tourism, Culture and International Affairs.
The resolution does not give anyone in Hawaii any legal right to carry out this cruelty. Cockfighting is still illegal here on Maui and throughout the Hawaiian Islands.
The other day at the airport while boarding a plane, the back of a man’s shirt caught my eye. There was an image of a beautiful rooster screen printed on the shirt. The text read: “Cockfighting is NOT illegal. It is our culture.”
My friend feels that the least she can do is give the jungle birds food and water every night before sunset, so she puts up with the verbal abuse. If she ever gets spat on, and she thinks that’s probably the next phase, she says her strategy will be to make her “chicken run” an early morning errand rather than an afternoon treat. afternoon. She wishes she could do more.
Copyright owned by Pamela K. Williams