The feral fowl that frequent the streets and alleys of Key West seem like the perfect metaphor for Key West -– historic, colorful, sort of wild, a little noisy and occasionally annoying.
You don’t have to work hard to spot Key West chickens — you hear them crowing and see them strutting everywhere. The colorful roosters and the mother hens followed by lines of tiny chicks weave in and out of traffic and through outdoor cafes all over town. Key West residents call them gypsy chickens.
There have always been chickens in Key West. When people stopped the laborious process of turning live chickens into Sunday dinner many decades ago, some backyard chickens gained their freedom. Other roosters were released when cock-fighting became illegal.
The chicken population grew so large that in 2004, Key West hired a chicken catcher to reduce the number. His work was controversial – plenty of people cherish the chickens — and the post was discontinued that year when he quit.