Jungle Fowl at the Museum

Last weekend, Steve and I went to Salem, a small city on the north shore, to go to the Peabody Essex Museum to see the Ansel Adams exhibit. The photography was beautiful, but didn’t move me. What did surprise me, and stop me in my tracks as we walked through a gallery, were a few pieces of porcelain. The museum is known for it’s collection of export Chinese ceramics, which is not an aesthetic that usually interests me. But, there was a small teapot (?) with a charming face. I looked closer. A crawfish held onto the spout. On it’s head was a lotus seed pod. It was an object that made me first ask, “what is this?” and then “who would think this up?” and then “why?” And then it made me smile. That, to me, is the perfect museum-going experience.

We wandered into another gallery, an old, high-ceiling room with ship figureheads mounted onto the walls. There were also display cases that held what appeared to be Victorian-era items of curiosity. There was this taxidermied bird:

The label (quite high-tech on a computer screen) stated that this was a jungle fowl, captured by a Captain Wheatland in 1846, and that (although disputed) this very rooster was the progenitor of the Rhode Island Red.

Here are my RIRs, Ruby and Garnet. See a resemblance?

You never know what you’ll come across when you visit a museum.


  1. They kind of look alike! That is there Great Great Great..etc….Granddaddy for sure!

  2. The body reminds me more of a shamo espically with the longer legs and thinner body. But plummage wise I see it with the RIR’s. I do know people will collect taxtermied hens, and they usually go for around a hundred dollars. I know someone mentioned online they even saw a taxtermied Polish hen. And I have seen taxtermied silkies on ebay. I have just gotten into eating the website the blogess, and along with zombies she loves to collect taxtermied animals and make outfits for them. I know the coolest taxtermied animals I saw on ebay were of baby ducks that were dressed up and postioned to look they were a chainsaw killer going on to killer other baby ducks. Here it is on ebay

  3. I wouldn’t want to be caught in a dark barn alone with that fellow! By the way, whenever I see pictures of RIRs I look at their feet. My production reds seem to have really big feet. Much bigger than any pictures of RIRs I have seen. I wonder where the big feet came from. This is of course my first year of chickens.

  4. We were at PEM last weekend too! Loved Ansel Adams, loved the building, but somehow missed,the chicken!

    • I never miss a chicken :) The porcelain that I loved was in the room with the “Mr. Nobody” figurines (these were replicas of a blue man, without a body – just trousers up to neck. Is that where the word “nobody” comes from???)

  5. I lost our Bantam Rooster to SCD (sudden chicken death) last month. You know . . . one minute they are fine and they next on deaths door. He was such a beautiful bird so I called my taxidermy friend and he is being mounted for all eternity . . . Some might think it’sa little crazy . . . . but I’m ok with being a little crazy!

    p.s. love the Peabody! Interesting “stuff”

    • Sorry about your loss. Ok, I have to ask – how will he be posed? (Maybe in the process of being mounted your friend will see if there was anything obvious that killed the roo. If so, let me know.)

      • Sorr to hear about your rooster, I hope he will come out good. And be a good memory for years to come. From what I was looking at online you can you get your rooster just standing, standing with his wings out, or even standing and crowing. Some people get just the capes of the rooster preserved too. Terry have you thought of getting a taxidermied white bantam leghorn to play Tillie, that you could take with you to read with you at schools where you can’t take one of your live hens too ? Acourse I won’t suggest one our own, but maybe an antique one that have you have no emotional connections too ?

  6. Hi Terry, I’m a little late to the party, but was it Salem, MA that you visited – the witch capital of America? If so, my daughter and I went several years back and beyond the obvious expectations (especially because it was October) we fell in love with the architecture and the people were all really wonderful. Loved visiting The House of the Seven Gables.

    • Yes, Salem, MA is where PEM is. At one point in the 1800s it was a wealthy seafaring town, and there are many homes and buildings that remain from that era. Much of the museum collection reflects that history.

      • I went to Salem Mass in the summer of 1999, and it is a maze if you aren’t use to it. Have they ever put up any more stoplights since I have been their ? Because I definitely rememebr their was a lack of them. And people love to pull out in front of you without signaling as well.