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Public service announcement: Chickens on the Hollywood Freeway aren't a hallucination

December 8, 2009 |  3:00 pm

This plucky tribe of animals has captured the imagination of Angelenos for years -- and no, we're not talking about the lizard people. We're talking about the L.A. freeway chickens that reportedly are still roaming the city's roadways (despite a failed attempt to corral them) decades after the 1969 poultry-truck crash that sent them careening onto the Hollywood Freeway. Columnist Steve Harvey has the details on these fearless fryers; here's an excerpt:

Freeway chickens "I tried to avoid a lady who cut in front of me, and I turned over," driver Joe Silbert told The Times in 2000. "I was taking anywhere from 500 to 1,000 chickens back from the Valley to a slaughterhouse in L.A."

As eggs exploded, many of the birds spilled out and escaped into the brush near the Vineland Avenue onramp in Studio City.

Silbert gave chase but estimated that at least 200 chickens made their way to freedom. The fugitives took up residence along the 101 and became known as the Freeway Chickens.

"Commuters caught in traffic jams passed the time observing the free-living fowl," The Times' T.W. McGarry wrote. "Chickens have a slim repertoire of amusing antics, but it doesn't take much to distract someone inching up Cahuenga Pass at 2.2 mph."

The birds' new existence was eased by an elderly resident who sprinkled seed through the chain-link fence, left water for them and inevitably became known as the Chicken Lady.

Her name was Minnie Blumfield and, no, she didn't think of the chickens as her children.

"They're just chickens, but I do love them," said the elderly widow, who spent $30 of her monthly Social Security check on their upkeep.


Photo: Chickens on the freeway shoulder in a 1981 photo. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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