It's been a while since I wrote something about the wild chickens roaming the streets of Key West and as the last lot were photographed at the Post Office on Whitehead Street I figured I could usefully spend some time on Truman Avenue for these pictures.
The most popular explanation for the wild chickens is that they somehow came to Key West as part of the Cuban cultural baggage that arrived from that island, whether during the emigration of cigar makers or otherwise isn't completely clear.
I checked the WPA pictures in the exhibit at the Art and History Museum, painted in the 1930s and you'd think they would have appeared had they existed on the streets of Cayo Hueso back then, but there was no sign of the photogenic fowl in those pictures. People walking dogs, coconut palms and flaming orange poinciana featured but chickens? Not a sign was the of chickens on the streets of the Depressed Southernmost City.
Nowadays they are celebrated and pointed out as examples of the visible eccentricity of life on this island. I am no great fan of chickens, they are noisy and loud and best eaten roasted. Their supporters say they eat bugs, I say native birds like delicate and silent ibis do the same and more efficiently.
But my complaints are in vain. Some people who try to actually sleep in Party Central, namely Old Town grumble that their crowing keeps them awake. However unless you are killing chickens to eat (no doubt a Depression Era caveat) they are not permitted to be molested. Not even when they lurk here:
Like the chickens I loathe iguanas another breed that runs rampant in the Keys. Wild iguanas' origins are traced back to pets let loose who survived quite nicely in this frost-free climate. Temperatures below fifty degrees will stun them into immobility but when the warm temperatures return the devilish iguana spring back to life and eat ornamental plants in every garden they can find. I loathe iguanas.
Chickens are just mildly annoying.
I do not think this magnificent building is enhanced by their presence though you could say the same for these guys....
So I suppose in the end, a chicken is no big deal really.