Domestic chicken

Latin Name
Gallus domesticus




Domestic chickens range in appearance due to breed, though they share common traits: squat stature, rounded bodies, dense feathers, wattles of flesh around the face. Adult roosters (males) have distinct combs of red flesh and striking plumage including flowing tails and shiny, pointed feathers. Roosters may also have spurs on their legs which they employ in battles with other males. With some breeds, a "beard" of feathers is prominent under the chicken's face.



Chickens are domesticated around the world.


There are more chickens in the world than any other bird.


Living conditions in domestication vary from small, organic farms to massive poultry-production facilities.


Wild chickens are omnivores, gobbling insects, seeds, lizards and young mice. Domesticated birds are usually fed simple, balanced diets of feed. Contrary to their reputation, roosters are generous when it comes to food-the cocky males may call to their chickens when he finds food, prompting them to eat first. (This behavior is seen with hens and their chicks.) While wild chickens are preyed upon by a host of predators (most are incapable of flying more than short distances), their domestic cousins are protected by their handlers.

Life History

Chickens can live about a decade, though birds raised for food are often slaughtered well before that time. Hens are most productive early in their lives, when they can produce an egg nearly every day. Chickens are social animals that live in flocks, within which pecking orders dictates access to food and nesting locations.

Special Adaptations

Roosters will crow (produce a shrill call) to alert other males about their territory. Hens will cluck after laying an egg and also use this vocalization to gather their chicks.

Lincoln Park Zoo Exhibit