Bermese chickens rule the Fitzgerald roost - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Bermese chickens rule the Fitzgerald roost

September 23, 2004

Fitzgerald-- Fitzgerald's football team is the Purple Hurricanes. But the city's unofficial mascots are Bermese chickens. The colorful birds can be found all over town. Some don't like them, but others love them.

Trains aren't the only whistles you hear in Fitzgerald. Bob Chandler spends hours feeding and watching these unusual chickens.

What do they like to eat? “Anything,” says Chandler. “Even chicken,” he laughs.

 The chicken-eating chickens provide hours of entertainment for the people here at the Harris House Assisted Living Home. "I feed 'em all the time," says Jessie Mae Anderson.

And she enjoys watching them. "I do. There's a lot of them back in yonder here. This ain't all of them."

They're almost like pets. "When Bob come out here and get to whistlin at 'em, they come running," said Jessie Mae.

"You can see where they've dug all along there," says Juliet Sims. And they run to Sims’ Antique Shop downtown, too. "I have about 45 that come everyday. And if I'm not here, as soon as I get here, they'll come to the door and start crowing so I'll come feed 'em if they don't have any food."

Seventy-five pounds of food per week she gives the chickens that she calls a tourist attraction. "They'll come across here and all the little babies and everything and when people come from out of town, they'll stop and get their cameras and takes pictures because they just can't believe they're seeing what they're seeing."

They're seeing Burmese Wild Chickens, much different from South Georgia's typical yard bird. These tiny, colorful birds resemble fighting game chickens.

And since the Department of Natural Resources brought them here in the 1960's as an alternative game bird, they've flourished. "I don't know of another town that has chickens that just run around the street, " said Juliet.

They run around the streets and walk the alleys, pecking, crowing, and blocking traffic. "People stop and watch them go across,” said Juliet. “They won't hit them. They just watch them go across the road. I mean, that's the reason I had my wild chicken sign made so that people would realize they were coming across here."

Here, where wild game birds are part of the scenery. "I enjoy them. They’re pretty to look at, but I don't want to eat nary one. They're too old," said Jessie Mae Anderson.

Maybe too old to eat, but for many folks in Fitzgerald, watching these colorful chickens never gets old.

And did you know these Burmese chickens are smarter and more athletic than regular chickens? For example, if they're caught in a fight, Burmese chickens move around and think out their moves, while other breeds move straight into the fray.

posted at 10:00AM by dave.miller@walb.com