Ain’t nobody here but us chickens
Ain’t nobody here at all
So calm yourself and stop that fuss
There ain’t nobody here but us…
1947 Louis Jordan
I met my first gypsy chicken, that’s what they call them down there, when we pulled into the RV park in Key West. Well, actually, the park is on Stock Island… just a kiss away. I thought the greeting committee – three hens and a rooster – were someone’s wandering pets.It wasn’t until we went to dinner at Blue Heaven the next evening and there were hens and chicks loitering under tables hoping for treats, and roosters crowing from the tree-tops, that I realized the chickens ‘were a thing!’
I noticed more and more of them at the RV park, where they’d emerge from under the shade of the RVs, curious to see what you were doing and if you had food to share. They are brave, I’ll give them that. A large, gleaming rooster walked right up to me as we strolled down a street with Cuban coffees and a bag of plantain chips. He knew what that crinkling and crunching sound were. Of course I shared, and in return, he posed for me.
Not everyone loves the gypsy chickens, as you can imagine. They are messy, and the roosters crow at all hours of the day and night – nope, they don’t only crow at sunrise. And since they have no natural predators, they strut around like, well… Mick Jagger. The residents are prohibited from shooting them because of laws dating back to voodoo practices among the Haitian settlers. Nor would they make good eating, since they are wild, feral chickens.
It seems that every few years there is a push to get rid of the chickens, but there is always a push-back from the people who like them and the pest control they provide, keeping scorpions and cockroaches at bay. AND the fact that the tourists really enjoy them doesn’t go unnoticed. They do lend an exotic Caribbean feel to the island.
I can’t imagine the island with all of the chickens gone… it wouldn’t be the same at all.
The chickens were a part of what made our stay there so enjoyable. That, and Blue Heaven Restaurant (the outdoor courtyard was pictured above the pie) with it’s colorful history, our amiable waiter, Rocky, and their divinely inspired Key Lime Pie.