Portrait Gallery 108


Adventure Chicken

Before I worked in animal rescue, I had an idea that chickens didn't do all that much other than peck around for food, sleep, poop, and make other chickens. Oh, sure I appreciated that they were beautiful animals (I think chickens have the most dazzling eyes of all animals, in fact) and that they had feelings and a right to a happy life... but they were somewhat alien to me, and I had assumed they were all pretty much the same. You know, not a lot of variety in personalities, or habits. I wasn't alone, because in general, most people don't seem to care much about what goes on in the minds of chickens. I used to be one of those clueless people, but I am not proud of that. One of the birds that helped forever change my mind about chickens was a little white hen who I used to call “Adventure Chicken” or AC, for short.

AC was a petite little girl who could never stay put. She didn't like other chickens at all, and she seemed to avoid them. She didn't dislike humans, but in truth she didn't seem to find us all that interesting unless we had food, and even then only if it was something special. AC's true passion was exploration, and during daylight hours I would be astounded to find her in the craziest of places. She was never still, never resting, always looking for something. I don't want to anthropomorphize, but to me she seemed to have an insatiable desire to always know what was behind every door or around every corner. She had the same spark that pushes men to climb mountains and map arctic wasteland. This attitude was what I might expect from a puppy, or a very motivated cat, or even a toddler. It took me by surprise to find such powerful wanderlust in this little white hen. To AC, the unknown was an intolerable mystery that had to be experienced and resolved every moment of every day.

She would move with lightning speed to zip inside a pantry door before it shut, or hop atop the refrigerator to rummage through a basket of old feed invoices. I once found her in the steel guts of a broken down truck that had been opened up for repairs, and another time in the back seat of a car in the parking lot. Once she was even found inside the case of medical instruments a veterinarian had brought for a horse check-up and she had almost been closed up inside it. AC was always alone on her safaris, never with an accomplice or even a Sherpa guide. Sometimes her thrill seeking made me worry for her safety (such as when she became obsessed with experiencing every nook and cranny of a bulldozer during a farm construction project) and I would carry her back to the other hens in their gated area. She would always find a way out, and it seldom took long.

At the end of the day AC always wound up back in the same place, the bunny barn. That was her home, where her heart seemed to be at rest. Though she shunned her own kind, and had not more than basic tolerance for humans, she adored rabbits, and the rabbits seemed to adore her right back. By late afternoon she could be found nestled down in hay surrounded by her fuzzy and floppy eared adoptive family. Frequently two or more bunnies would snuggle up against her and form a pile of fur and feathers. This always moved me, and though I don't think AC ever gave me much of a thought (except when I frequently annoyed her by relocating her) I loved her dearly. She was inspiring, endearing, and utterly unique.


Walt Batycki


Adventure Chicken