A rooster in paradise
Dokmai Garden has not had a rooster since the last one was killed by our golden retriever Ruben on April 3rd, 2012. The absence of a rooster made the garden more tranquil and so we did not replace him.
However, without a male there will be no babies, and the toll by street dogs and other unknown predators has reduced our chicken by one third, so a new male is needed. The purpose of keeping chicken, apart from their beauty, is to control scorpions, slugs, snails, centipedes, termites and juvenile snakes.
A few days ago I heard a rooster by our quarry, some 300 meters away from our living quarters. Two days ago when showing the garden to visiting Americans I heard and saw a beautiful rooster by our large tamarind. When spotting us it flew away in panic into the teak plantation on the other side of the road. Later that same day he walked about in the monsoon woodland trying to make friends with our hens. He chickened out when he saw me and my son Mika and ran away towards the hill. Yesterday morning he considered himself the official rooster in paradise, proudly and repeatedly announcing the conquest of territory and ladies.
Interestingly, his plumage, behaviour and call indicate he is in fact a wild jungle fowl, or a wild chicken (Gallus gallus). Since roosters are territorial they would force their mature sons to leave. This young gentleman was lucky to find our secluded garden with ten dames and a vacant rooster position. His presence will be a powerful injection to the gene pool.
The mother of all hens worldwide originate in the jungles of East India, Thailand and Southeast Asia. The wild hen has a plumage similar to this Dokmai Garden hen. Since inheritable mutations only occur in the sexual cells, the egg came before the hen.
The father of all domestic chicken looks like this new ruler of Dokmai Garden. He is still afraid of people and keeps a respectful distance. I ask the ornithologists whether or not we should list him as wild bird species number 98?
Text & Photo: Eric Danell