Most mornings we are awoken by a cheerful cock-a-doodle-doo. It is a nice way to wake up, a reminder that nature is calling, and the day has started. Admittedly, it is slightly annoying at 5am, but hey. When you see the beauty of the fellows making this noise, much is forgiven. With their striking plumage and solid strut, the roosters of the wild jungle fowl are a joy to behold. They love our garden too, and the wild roosters like to prance around our own layer hens, who look demurely from the run at these attractive males.
It seems not everyone feels that way. Not far from us a group of wild fowl was thriving, and after several complaints from local residents, the government decided to act. All the fowl were caught, and culled. Not even turned into proper free-range chicken rice, but disposed of. Needless to say, the other half of the residents were livid. They loved their chooks.
Now, there is a raging debate online whether the fowl in question were in fact jungle fowl, the wild ancestor of our domestic chickens, an endangered, and therefore protected species. This particular flock was featured in a BBC documentary on urban wildlife, and I struggle to believe that Sir Attenborough and friends would not know their jungle animals?
The government obviously does not want to admit a mistake, and is trying hard to prove these birds were, in fact, no such thing. That they were feral chicken, domestic ones gone wild, and that have interbred with the jungle fowl, and therefore look alike. Biologists claim that these mixed-breeds need to be culled, to protect the clean bloodlines of the jungle fowl race. Can you imagine someone suggesting to do such a thing with human race populations? It has been done, historically, and never ended well.
To calm us all down before I continue, let me show you the photos of the immensely cute mother with four chicks we saw in our garden this weekend.
Pure-blooded or not, we love all our game, noisy as they are, but I still became curious which race 'ours' were. On the internet it is suggested that 'real' jungle fowl has grey legs and a bright white spot by the side of the head. Most of the roosters we see have the white spot, so does mother hen above. They are all good flyers, that we have seen roost high up in the top of the trees, so I am included to think they are proper wild jungle fowl.
But one of my favourite roosters, seen below, perched on the fence, has a noticeable long, single feather tail, lighter grey legs, and no white spot. So I worry for him. Let's hope none of the neighbours call the police.