Fitzgerald is a unique town among the culturally Southern people in the US. That is to say it has its own special kind of Southern comfort. It was developed in the late 1800s as a place for Civil War veterans to retire (both the North and the South.) However that’s not the thing that really sets Fitzgerald apart from the rest. In this Georgia town there is a flock of thousands of wild chickens roaming and plucking about the community.
These little flightless birds are colorful and resemble fighting roosters. They were let loose at the Ocmulgee River yet populations of them never took root there and they left to make home in Fitzgerald. Here they’ve become somewhat of a pesky nuisance.
The Wild Chickens that we are talking about here are actually Burmese chickens. They have a couple of differences from the ‘normal’ every day chicken. That is to say they are quite different indeed. The Burmese Wild chickens are more athletic, agile and smarter. Come to think of it it is for this very reason that the species has been able to prosper so well.
Among the people of Fitzgerald there is a little animosity with the birds. A few people choose to see the birds and feed them while others chase them down. Whether you love or hate them they’ve been an integral part for the people of Fitzgerald. There is some good. They keep the bugs away, for one. Another thing that they do that is a little annoying is that they create minor traffic problems and they tend to cock-a-doodle-doo in the mornings. For anybody trying to sleep or drive freely then they are a burden.
If you’re ever in Fitzgerald check out the Wild Chicken Festival to celebrate this unique heritage of these new comers. It’s every third weekend of March in the Fitzgerald downtown historic district.