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.”

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Mass Audubon protects 36,500 acres of land throughout Massachusetts, saving birds and other wildlife, and making nature accessible to all. As Massachusetts’ largest nature conservation nonprofit, we welcome more than a half million visitors a year to our wildlife sanctuaries and 20 nature centers. From inspiring hilltop views to breathtaking coastal landscapes, serene woods, and working farms, we believe in protecting our state’s natural treasures for wildlife and for all people—a vision shared in 1896 by our founders, two extraordinary Boston women. Today, Mass Audubon is a nationally recognized environmental education leader, offering thousands of camp, school, and adult programs that get over 225,000 kids and adults outdoors every year. With more than 125,000 members and supporters, we advocate on Beacon Hill and beyond, and conduct conservation research to preserve the natural heritage of our beautiful state for today’s and future generations. We welcome you to explore a nearby sanctuary, find inspiration, and get involved. Learn how at massaudubon.org.