I See Chickens Everywhere

Keeping poultry opens your eyes to a world most fowl: rubber chickens on bicycles and in recycle bins, chicken sculptures and costumes at Scandinavian castles, and poultry yard art in the American Midwest.

by Ana Hotaling
PHOTO: Ana Hotaling

When I started driving my Grand Cherokee last autumn, suddenly Grand Cherokees were everywhere: at the supermarket, on the highway, at the gym. Everywhere I looked, there they were. I don’t know how I could have possibly missed the plethora of Grand Cherokees that have apparently existed around me all these years.

What I haven’t missed, however, is the profusion of poultry that also populates my environment. Just like the automobile, my favorite domesticated bird (and yours) seems to be everywhere I turn. Not the actual animal, although that certainly is the case in my rural area. No, I mean artistic and artifactual representations of chickens. Their ubiquity brings to mind the rousing cry from that classic Dick Orkin American radio series, Chickenman, “He’s everywhere! He’s everywhere!”

Chickens in My Backyard

Literally and figuratively. For instance, my family recently went camping just north of Benton Harbor (a lakeside Michigan town and also the name of Chickenman’s alter ego). On a morning run, I passed by a bearded man wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a full-color rooster. I almost stopped and retraced my steps to ask if I could take a photo (I didn’t). Toward the end of our vacation, we visited the Tri-Cities Historical Museum in nearby Grand Haven. One of the exhibits there was a battered old sign promoting tattooing and registering poultry with the state police.

chickens everywhere
Ana Hotaling

I can’t help but wonder how efficient this service was. I suspect that these tattoos frequently wound up in the bellies of the poultry thieves. Then, during a drop-off at an outdoor recycling center, I discovered a rubber chicken poking out of the bottles-and-cans bin.

rubber chicken recycling bin
Ana Hotaling

I adopted it. He’s now on the boot bench in our garage.

Chickens Across America

But chickens, rubber or reproductions, aren’t just a Michigan thing. My friend Rhoda posted a photo on social media of a rubber chicken she saw attached to a bicycle at a triathlon in Cleveland.

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chickens everywhere bicycle

At an Omaha garden store, my husband, Jae, and I spent a quarter hour admiring a group of brightly hued metal roosters we found amongst the birdhouses and wind chimes, trying to figure out how to fit them into our car (we couldn’t).

chickens everywhere yard art omaha
Ana Hotaling

At the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, artist Katharina Fritsch’s giant blue rooster sculpture, “Hahn/Cock,” gazed down at visitors, including my friend Andy. “It was so … blue! And big!” he reported, amazed by the immense work of art.

Chickens Everywhere

Unexpected encounters are what makes finding chickens everywhere so entertaining. I never know where I’ll come across a poultry-shaped topiary or a bakery selling chicken-shaped sugar cookies. I was roaming a rose garden at Denmark’s Egeskov Castle when I came across a very whimsical statue of an armored weasel riding on the back of a rooster.

chickens everywhere armored weasel sculpture egeskov castle denmark
Ana Hotaling

At Malmohus Castle in Sweden, a natural history exhibit inexplicably—and amusingly—featured feathered chicken costumes, one with a sash reading “Miss USA.”

chickens everywhere malmohus castle sweden
Ana Hotaling

It’s gotten to the point that I now post these surprising fowl finds on my social media accounts with the hashtag #IFindChickensEverywhere. And I do … and I’m sure you do, too. Share your chicken finds: post your photos with this hashtag. I—and all our fellow chicken devotees—would love to see them.

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