According to Merriam Webster (whose dictionary is the gold standard for literary editors, so I’m told), a chicken can be a type of common domestic fowl used for food…or a coward. A hen can be an older female chicken…or a “fussy, middle-aged woman.” Rooster refers an adult male chicken…or a cocky, vain man. Now I ask you, who wants to be any of those?? And, how did chickens get such a bad rap, anyway? Among my list of favorite birds, chickens never really made the grade… until I came to Hawaii, but now I have a new fascination for these fine fellows. I saw a gorgeous rooster with iridescent green feathers as well as the usual kaleidoscope of reds, oranges, and yellows trying to cross the highway in Kauai not long ago, and I thought to myself, “If I didn’t know what that was, I’d be agog with its size and brilliant plumage!” Indeed, these cocky specimens of male finery are all the rage in Hawaii. Roosters adorn baseball caps and napkin holders. They rule the roost, make themselves at home cleaning up waffle cone scraps in ice cream parlors, and slurp up puddles of shaved ice spilled from kiddie cones. They announce the coming dawn…
sometimes as early at 2:00 am but definitely by 4:00 am (and throughout the day whenever they’re startled). I noticed this ad today accompanying the photo of a rooster:
“Diamond Head home for sale with pool and built in alarm clock.” Menus offer entrees of feral rooster stuffed with cactus. (That one might be a joke; I’m told the reason they’re everywhere
is because they have parasites and aren’t fit to eat.) Despite being the brunt of jokes and a synonym for a lame-brained coward, I think chickens are worthy of respect, and here are my reasons: *They are the most common bird in the world (50 billion). Compare that to the most common wild bird in the world,
sparrows, at 1.5 billion! (Huge difference, huh?)* They are historically famous, called the “bird that gives birth every day” (Thutmose III, 1500 BC). *They are the most prolific birds: In 2009, an estimated 62.1 million metric tons of eggs were produced worldwide from a total laying flock of approximately 6.4 billion hens. (That’s over a trillion eggs!) *Besides being beautiful, cocks aren’t afraid to crow! “Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake?
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow,
till thou hast denied me thrice” (John 13:38). * Besides being plucky, chickens make wonderful mothers: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together,
even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”
(Matthew 23:37). *And last, but most significantly, chickens provide more sacrificial lives for meat than any other animal (even if the feral flock aren’t feed by humans). In 2008, 9.08 billion chickens were slaughtered in the United States according to the United States Department of Agriculture data, and that’s just the U.S.! World wide, over 40 billion broilers are raised and killed every year. Only the sacrifice of Jesus has provided life-giving food for more people!
“For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world” (John 6:33). Jesus said: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).
(All photos were taken in Hawaii, although the one of the rooster crowing at dawn was taken at my son’s home in Oahu.)