Feb 19 2014

Most Numerous Bird On Earth

Published by at 7:30 am under Doves & Chickens

Bresse chickens (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Surprise!  The chickens are back.(*)

In The Botany of Desire Michael Pollan remarks that the plants humans desire are more numerous and successful than those we don't care about.  Apples and potatoes would be overlooked plants, found only in their native ranges in Asia and South America, if we didn't like to eat them.

This is true of birds, too.  Chickens were domesticated about 8,000 years ago from the red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) of India and Southeast Asia. By now the domestic chicken comes in several colors, is barely able to fly, and is found around the globe.  "With a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird," according to Wikipedia.

This is hard to imagine until you realize that 74% of 'meat' chickens and 68% of egg layers are raised by intensive farming methods, such as battery cages, where space per bird is minimized.  Fortunately there is pressure to legislatively and voluntarily stop inhumane practices. The EU, for example, outlawed battery cages in 2012.

Meanwhile urban farming is picking up, even in my own city neighborhood.  A couple of years ago I met a family of four hens who lived a few blocks from my home. Though kept for their egg-laying and treated as pets I was impressed by their "bird-ness" and their pecking order.  They were fascinating to watch.

Our desire for chickens and eggs insures these birds will always be the most numerous bird on earth.


(photo of Bresse chickens from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original)

(*) Peekaboo. This post appeared for two hours on January 31 and then disappeared until today.  Were you one of the few who saw it then?  Leave a comment if you did.

12 responses so far

12 Responses to “Most Numerous Bird On Earth”

  1. Donna Edwards Jordanon 19 Feb 2014 at 8:47 am

    Yes! My eagle-eye caught those chickens on first appearance!

  2. Diane Korologon 19 Feb 2014 at 8:55 am

    I saw your original post on this in January and would like to add that they are a real asset to homeowners because they eat ticks and mosquitos!

  3. Carlaon 19 Feb 2014 at 9:13 am

    I saw it in January and never noticed that it disappeared. Until I read to the bottom I wondered why it was being repeated today.

  4. steveon 19 Feb 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Who’s eating House Sparrows? They have to be in the top 5. Maybe Rock Pigs too. ; )

  5. Kate St. Johnon 19 Feb 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Donna, Diane and Carla, only my most dedicated morning-time readers would ever have noticed — and they are you. Thank you for following my blog!
    p.s. and Denise and Peggy, too

  6. Deniseon 19 Feb 2014 at 3:07 pm

    me too, me too.

  7. Candyon 19 Feb 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Completely off the subject, but I just checked the Hays Bald Eagle nestcam, and there’s an egg! Does anyone know when it was laid?

  8. Kate St. Johnon 19 Feb 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Wow, Candy! I can hardly wait to get to my computer to check!

  9. Kate St. Johnon 19 Feb 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Candy, on Facebook Wild Bird Recovery says it was at 4:45pm

  10. Candyon 19 Feb 2014 at 5:58 pm

    Thanks, Kate! So exciting! Maybe spring really is on the way!

  11. Peggyon 21 Feb 2014 at 8:34 am

    Yes, I too saw the chickens the first time they appeared.

  12. Kate St. Johnon 22 Feb 2014 at 4:50 am

    Thanks, Peggy.

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