Free Range

There are chickens all over Cruz Bay, the largest town on St. John. Every morning, we hear the full-throated crowing of this strutting specimen and his fellow rooster friends with our morning coffee, and when we venture into town we see the chickens hunting and pecking pretty much everywhere. We’ve even noticed “native island chicken” on the menu of some of the restaurants we’ve visited.

The chickens of St. John could justifiably be called “free range” fowl. They aren’t cooped up and being fed some genetically modified feed to fatten them up; they’re totally on the loose and running free and eating whatever they can find. But being free also means dealing with danger. For the birds that means darting across roads that are jammed with cars and visitors and dodging the wheels of the colorful Jeeps and SUVs that are the vehicles of choice on this hilly island. As we saw to our sadness and regret one night, they don’t always make it.

Why does the St. John chicken cross the road? Because it’s hungry and willing to take the risk for the promise of food on the other side.