Feral Chickens Run Wild in Boalsburg
It's one of those things that some people love -- others, maybe not so much.
But the flock of wild chickens that's decided to call the village of Boalsburg home has quickly become something of a community tradition.
Harris Township Manager Amy Farkas says the birds moved into town in 2008 and they've been ruling the roost ever since.
Farkas remembers when it all began, "I was at a Memorial Day party and somebody said, 'Amy we have chickens living in Boalsburg,' and I said no we don't."
"They really are wild feral chickens," says Farkas. "We never did find out where they came from. We thought at one time they came from a coop that was raided by a bear but that person called and said 'No, that wasn't their chickens.'"
At first, a lot of people thought Boalsburg wasn't big enough for people and chickens. "We looked into finding someone to get rid of the chickens," says Farkas. "But we didn't want to kill the chickens ... because we thought that was like bad karma."
Some people were able to catch a bunch of chickens and take them to a farm but that hardly made a dent in Boalsburg's fowl popultion. And the suddenly growing number of chickens led to some ruffled feathers.
"It started out with only four or five of them and then at one point we had two rival gangs of chickens," says Farkas. "We had chickens down on East Main on the diamond and we had chickens up on West Main. It was really like the Sharks and the Jets from West Side Story.
"They have now become part of our culture here which is kind of interesting because there are people that love them and people that hate them. Typically, if you live next to the rooster or you live right around where they're kinda hanging out, you're not a big fan of them because they're digging in your flower bed. But if you don't live near them you think they are the cutest things that you've ever seen."
Longtime Boalsburg resident Neal Cromarty says he's never heard anyone say anything bad about the chickens. "Oh, I like them, You know, it's a rural community," he says. "They're kind of here. You just sit and watch them. Everybody gets a kick out of them running around."
The roosters may be the biggest threat to the normally tranquil life in Boalsburg.
"The roosters crow when it's a cloudy day," says Farkas. "I think they get confused. ... It's really annoying because they will wake up at four in the morning and then if it doesn't ever get sunny they just keep going. They don't know how to be quiet."
The early morning wake up caws are less of a problem these days. There used to be two roosters but one of them died over the winter.
Farkas recalls the chickens caused some consternation the first couple of years. Every time the chickens went into someone's yard the phone would ring at the township offices. But the fact is, most people have adjusted to having free range chickens running wild in the streets.
One Boalsburg resident told StateCollege.com the chickens are just like squirrels. Nobody really pays any attention to them.
"They don't have a coop to live in," says Farkas. "They don't belong to anyone. They just kind of of belong to the town and it's fine."
Right now, there are probably five or six wild chickens in Boalsburg, what Farkas calls a "very manageable flock." And their popularity is soaring.
"People come to Boalsburg to see the chickens," says Farkas. "They have a Facebook page. They're literally like little celebrities which is really funny.
"My family lives in suburban Philadelphia so they very much get a kick out of it -- that I'm like the chicken queen. They come up and visit and they think this is so funny."
Look below to see video of Boalsburg Feral Chickens: