Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Photographer Joel Sartore's Silkie Showgirls

Photographer Joel Sartore's Silkie Showgirls

National Geographic: The Great American Zoo Trip

Learn how many species are estimated to go extinct each day. Read how Mr. Sartore's feels his photography technique of capturing the species on black or white backgrounds "gives all species equal weight and importance. A tiny beetle is as interesting as a lion, and a two-toed sloth as cuddly as a panda bear."

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I just placed my order for spring chicks, including black silkies. Their interesting attributes--down-like "fur", dark blue flesh and bones, blue earlobes, docile nature, non-flying feathers, and five toes--make them somewhat of an anomaly in the poultry world. 

Being the history buff that I am, here's a little background on these, as Mr. Sartore calls them, "Silkie Showgirls":

Inveterate traveler and prolific writer Marco Polo was the first to mention the fur-like plumage of the Silkies during his 13th century Asian travels. The most well-documented origin of Silkies is China, although there is conjecture that they may have originated in Java or India. Silkies most probably arrived in the West via the Silk Route or through the maritime trade.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the black-skinned chicken is used to reinforce body immunity and protect  from emaciation and feebleness. Black-skinned chicken is also used to treat diabetes, anemia, menstrual cramps and postpartum disorders. 

Silkies are one of the oldest chicken breeds known. They are often exhibited in shows. Silkies do have a tendency to go broody making them excellent mothers.  They come in two types: bearded and non-bearded. 

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