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Tale of the NPR Street Chicken – “I glanced out the window and saw a decidedly fancy chicken strutting around on the grass in front of the DC Housing Department.”

by Prince Of Petworth November 10, 2015 at 10:10 am 36 Comments

Photo courtesy Mallory Yu

It is no secret that we at PoPville are quite fond of street chickens. So it was with great joy that I received the following email late yesterday afternoon:

“NPR found a chicken this morning. It is now sleeping quietly in the office of our former International Editor. It’s a hell of a story. If you’re interested, please follow up.”

Sweeter words were never read. So follow up I did. Following is the story of the NPR street chicken.

npr chicken

Many thanks to Adam Cole who filled in the details:

“I’m a science reporter here at NPR who runs a blog/youtube channel called Skunk Bear.

Yesterday, I glanced out the window and saw a decidedly fancy chicken strutting around on the grass in front of the DC Housing Department. It had attracted the attention of several NPR employees, including music librarian Robert Goldstein and the head of our health blog, Scott Hensley. I headed downstairs to get a closer look. A passerby (in pic 02, NY hat) was alternatively fascinated with and terrified of the bird. “What is that thing?” he asked repeatedly.

Foreign affairs correspondent Jackie Northam arrived on the scene expressing concern for the chicken’s safety. We bystanders resolved to catch the chicken and protect it from the morning North Capitol traffic. Ten embarrassing minutes later, I had grass stains on my knees and the chicken had given in to stereotypes and crossed the road.

Enter Jason Beaubien, chicken owner and neighborhood hero. Hardened by years of covering coup attempts in the Ivory Coast and Mexico’s drug war, Jason rallied us all to corner the chicken in a tuft of ornamental grass where he was finally able to grab it. The chicken sensed Jason’s quite power and calmed down immediately. It is now resting in the vacated office of our former international editor (now executive editor of news), Edith Chapin, inside a converted mail bin.

The authorities let us know they’d have to dispose of the chicken somehow (apparently rogue poultry are not allowed in our nation’s capitol? I’m not really clear on that point – maybe they’d just take it out to a shelter somewhere) so it would be fine for Jason to take the chicken back to his farm tonight. That’s the current plan. I’m sure he would be happy to reunite the chicken with its owner if such a person came forward.”


And because it’s 2015 – you can follow the NPR Street Chicken on twitter here. And because it’s NPR, read about chickens in the third worldhere. If you encounter a street chicken around town please send a photo and your story to [email protected]

  • wdc

    Urban wildlife stories are my favorite. (Recognizing that an ornamental chicken isn’t strictly wildlife, of course.)

  • skj84

    Is the chicken smarter than all the other chickens?

    • jcm

      All I wanted was to eat the chicken that is smarter than other chickens, and to absorb its power … and make a nice Kiev. But oh well.

  • blahblahblah

    Great story. And rogue poultry is my new favorite phrase of the week.

  • I Dont Get It

    Unless it is a service chicken, I don’t think chickens are allowed in public buildings.

    • wdc

      Emotional Support Chicken.

  • textdoc

    Great story! And that’s one fancy chicken!

  • MPinDC

    Of course the NPR chicken has a twitter account! Glad she’s found a good home.
    She’s a heritage breed, might be a blue or back Cochin (feathered feet is unique)

  • above7-11

    Is the chicken going to be the next International Editor? If so I would like to see her resume and a transcript of the interview? “Why do you think you are qualified for this position?” response “Cluck”, your hired.

  • Andy

    listened to This American Life around Halloween and was freaked out about rabid animals. So of course, my first thought after reading this post was checking whether chickens can get rabies. Apparently even though they aren’t mammals the answer is YES but they might be entirely asymptomatic AND can transmit the disease!!!! AAAAAACCCCCKKKKKK!!!!!!!


    • shadesofpale

      ugh, me too! As someone who runs in the woods often, and usually gets excited about the wildlife I see, now I have to be worried about all the rabid animals. Which includes figuring out how to know I’ve been bit by a bat even if I don’t know said bite occurred.

    • Anon

      Unlikely. The chicken could have Avian Influenza “bird flu” since it is spreading like crazy in Maryland and Virginia right now.

  • anonymous

    I never knew such majestic chickens existed. Google image searched “fancy chickens,” and there seem to be many types of fancy poulty. Who knew?

    • jumpingjack

      I learned about fancy chickens at the Minnesota State Fair – they’ve got a huge show area for them. My favorites had feathers that looked like bouffant hairdos and feathered pantaloons. They were majestic.

      • AnotherBdaleResident

        “Feathered pantaloons” is my new favorite phrase.

    • textdoc

      There’s a book (and related series of wall calendars) named “Extraordinary Chickens,” with photographs of fancy chickens.

    • MPinDC

      These chickens lay beautiful eggs – including sky blue and light green (from americauna hens)

      • Anon

        Actually this chicken will lay a small cream color egg.

      • AE

        “these chickens” = heritage breeds

  • houseintherear

    “Chicken Boo, what’s the matter with you?
    You don’t act like the other chickens do.
    You wear a disguise to look like human guys,
    but you’re not a man, you’re a Chicken Boo.”

  • Anon

    The chicken in the picture is a Belgian D’uccle or a Belgian Bantam. Most likely someone got it as it was a pretty pet. But when the reality that taking care of a chicken is hard work, they properly just dumped it. That’s why most cities now ban poultry.

  • anonymous

    I bet he spends his free time at the Handsome Cock on U (if it is still there)…

    • DC


  • Los

    am I the only thinking NITNOITNB?

    • andy2

      Me too!!!!

  • ET

    No how did the chicken cross the road jokes??

    • dno

      There was, you missed it.

  • InTheGaP

    Sloppy journalism at NPR . . . “Enter Jason Beaubien, chicken owner and neighborhood hero. Hardened by years of covering coup attempts in the Ivory Coast and Mexico’s drug war” . . . it was clearly supposed to be “coop attempts.” cluck, cluck, cluck, sorry . . .

    • Harry

      I was thinking the same thing.

  • Anons

    It’s aa Silver Laced Cochin, a beautiful chicken

    • Anon

      Incorrect. Cochins are wider in the breast. It’s a Belgian D’uncle. However, it could be mixed with a Cochin. It’s a pretty bird but is definitely not show quality.

      • Duponter

        This comment makes me wish emojis were available on PoP.

        • MM

          What emoji would you use here?

  • Cindy

    Some years ago we saw a big white fluffy chicken sitting on a fence in Georgetown around 28th and R St. In the dead of winter.

  • Steph

    Can someone please tell me, why is the DC Housing Dept building SO AWFUL?!

  • BMouse

    OMG this cause such terrible npr fangirling deep within me. Jason – been following you since WBUR, much love and chickens!


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