Happy Thanksgiving! While millions of Americans will be celebrating with their families today dining on turkey with all the trimmings, let us not forget a Miracle Mike, a phenomenal portent of poultry who survived a full 18 months without his head.
The story begins in Fruita, Colorado back in 1945 at the farm of Lloyd and L.A. Olson when the lady of the house had eyed a plump chicken for the dinner menu. In preparation for the meal, Mr. Olson grabbed his trusty ax and picked a chicken. He missed his mark and whacked off the birds head a little higher than usual, keeping a portion of his brain stem, a jugular vein and one ear intact. After the attemped execution, the ill-fated fowl ran around like a chicken with it’s head cut off but did not bite the dust. The family opted to put the chicken in a box on the farmhouse porch expecting him to die shortly. The next day he was found “sleeping with the other chickens, his neck tucked under his wing.” The fact that the bird was still alive stunned his owners. Mr. Olsen decided to capitalize on this plot twist by taking the bird around and showing him off.
He was coined Miracle Mike- The Headless Wonder Chicken and people happily paid a quarter to see the curiosity. Mr. Olsen kept the bird alive by feeding him with an eye dropper. It was common for Miracle Mike to collect fluid in his throat which caused him difficulty and needed to be cleared with a specual tool Mr. Olsen used to do the job. This feeding and fluid clearing seemed to work flawlessly and Miracle Mike set out on a national tour with his owner, travelling around the United States.
The Olsen’s made thousands of dollars a month touring with Mike but on March 17, 1947 the jig was up when Mike choked on a rogue piece of corn while on national tour in Phoenix, Arizona. Unfortunately The Olsen’s had left Mike’s feeding and clearing tools at the previous sideshow stop so they were unable to clear the obstruction. Miracle Mike passed away at the age of 23 months.
In Fruita, Colorado Miracle Mike- The Headless Wonder Chicken is still celebrated with a festival that is held the third weekend in May celebrating his short life. So while you’re enjoying your bird today raise a glass to Miracle Mike, the rooster rarity who persevered.
“The chicken that lived for 18 months without a head”. BBC News Online. September 10, 2015. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
The Daily Sentinel. Grand Junction, Colorado. May, 17 2006, Wed • Page 18
Fort Collins Coloradoan. Fort Collins, Colorado. May 14 2009, Thu • Page 5
Schultz, Colin. Mike the Chicken Lived 18 months Without a Head. Smithsonian Magazine. September 30, 2014