Drumlin Farm’s Chickens Go ‘Ku Ku’ For Amazing Saxophonist

Release Date:
October 15, 2015

LINCOLN, MA—All it took was a teenage saxophonist performing for an audience of chickens at Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary to demonstrate that there are endless ways people can connect with nature.

When “From the Top,” the National Public Radio showcase for top young classical musicians, contacted Mass Audubon about shooting a video at the popular wildlife sanctuary and working farm in Lincoln, it might have been assumed the organizations would team up to jointly advance their serious missions.

This collaboration was anything but.

The concept was that 18-year-old saxophonist Chad Lilley would interact with the chickens in a pasture and share space with them inside a “Chickenmobile”—while performing “Ku Ku,” a piece composed for the instrument that features plenty of chicken-esque squeaks, squawks, and clucks. (Kuku is a Swahili term for chicken.)

As Chad plays, the looks on the birds’ faces range from seemingly rapt attention and even awe to, okay, simple disinterest.

The lighthearted video is at once zany, funny, and quite unique.

When Sanctuary Director Renata Pomponi and Livestock Manager Caroline Malone heard the proposal, they were understandably quizzical but then quickly enthusiastic. Caroline confided that “From the Top” was her favorite radio program. For Renata, it was an opportunity to not to be missed.

“Art is a wonderful way to connect people to nature, and we were thrilled to have the Drumlin Farm chickens collaborate on this creative endeavor,” the sanctuary director said. “Oddly enough, our farmers have been hearing echoes of the saxophone themes in the chickens’ cluckings ever since the filming, so Chad’s music definitely left an impression on all of us.”


Mass Audubon is the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England. Founded in 1896 by two women who fought for the protection of birds, Mass Audubon carries on their legacy by focusing on the greatest challenges facing the environment today: the loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and climate change. With the help of our 140,000 members and supporters, we protect wildlife, conserve and restore resilient land, advocate for impactful environmental policies, offer nationally recognized education programs for adults and children, and provide endless opportunities to experience the outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries. Explore, find inspiration, and take action at www.massaudubon.org.