POSTED: 31 OCTOBER 2006 - 7:30pm HST

typical Moa rooster sports red, orange and dark green feathers

Birds and Plants of Kauai:
Moa - Red Jungle Fowl
by Linda Pascatore on 31 October 2006

The Moa, or Red Junglefowl, is the ancestor of all domesticated chickens, according to DNA studies. The bird originated in Asia, likely in Thailand, where it was first domesticated. Japanese researchers have compared DNA and found that every breed of domesticated chickens descended from these Red Junglefowl which they now believe were first domesticated 8,000 years ago. The first Polynesians brought the Moa with them to Hawaii. In their voyaging canoes, they carried a package of domesticated animals, including pigs and chickens; and food plants, including taro, breadfruit, sweet potato, and more. Canoe Plants Website:

The Moa, or Gallus gallus, resembles the domestic chicken. However, there is less variation in the species. Males are 30 inches long, bright reddish colored, and have sickle-shaped tails and red wattles. They have long arching tail feathers that are black with some blue, purple and green sheen. Long gold and bronze feathers form a “cape” over the back of the bird. During breeding, the male Moa announces himself with the familiar “cock-a-doodle-doo”. They use the spurs on their lower legs to fight competitors. Females are reddish brown and about 17 inches long. They have duller coloring and more camouflaged to protect their young.

Moas usually fly only to escape danger, or to get to their roosts in trees where they spend the night. Females nest on the ground. They usually lay almost a dozen eggs, which hatch after 18 to 20 days. The eggs are light tan in color with dark yokes and thick membranes. They are smaller than domesticated chicken eggs and delicious.

Newborns are up and walking soon after birth, are fully feathered by 4 or 5 weeks, and can reproduce by five months. They may live up to ten years. They eat fruit, worms, seeds or grain, and insects, including centipedes.

The Moa or Red Junglefowl is a very common sight on Kauai. We see Moas, as well as other varieties of chickens, in many Kauai locations. Moas have interbred with domestic varieties. The books say that true Moas are found primarily in the uplands like Kokee. However, we see many Moa-like chickens throughout Hanapepe Valley, at Salt Pond Beach, and at many other nearby locations.

For more on Hawaiian Nature see below:
Island Breath: Hawaiian Nature Menu
The Flora and Fauna of Hawaii
26 August 2006 - 8:00pm HST

Koa Tree: Hawaii's most prized wood the trunk made the wood a favorite for canoes in ancient times
31 December 2006 - 4:00pm HST

Ulu: The breadfruit tree is a canoe plant Originally from New Guinea, now an important plant here