The Sicilian Buttercup
The Sicilian Buttercup is an ornamental chicken breed which is exhibited in Mediterranean classes. Chickens can be kept for egg production, meat production, a bit of both or purely for aesthetic reasons and the Sicilian Buttercup falls into the last group. It is a very rare breed, perhaps because it doesn’t like being confined and it can fly well! It has a unique beauty with its golden colouring and fancy buttercup comb.
The Sicilian Buttercup was developed, naturally enough, in Sicily in the late 19th century. The plumage is a beautiful golden yellow and the comb is a cup-shape with points evenly distributed round the edge. The breed only comes in the one colour and it is also the only breed to have this type of comb.
Most Sicilian Buttercups in the United States trace back to eggs hatched in the country in 1892. Although some birds were imported into the United States in 1835, these strains did not continue.
They are small and spritely birds, very active and flighty even for a Mediterranean breed. They do not tame easily if at all and are always nervous and fidgety. Apart from a uniquely shaped comb and beautiful colouring they don’t have a lot going for them. When they do lay, the eggs are small. The eggs vary in colour from white to heavily tinted. They do not normally go broody. If you get 200 small eggs per Sicilian Buttercup hen per year you should be satisfied to know everything is average with your flock.
Buttercup chickens weigh around four to five pounds. The breed is sexually dimorphic meaning the cocks and hens are coloured and marked differently. The cock has rich, orange red plumage while the body fluff has some black spangling. At the base of the hackles the cape feathers also have black spangles. A lustrous, beetle-greenish iridescence enhances the black tail.
The hen is a buff shade with the body feathers sporting elongated spangles arranged in parallel rows. This gives the impression of myriads of spots. The appearance of the hen can be likened to that of a ringneck pheasant hen. The crown-like comb has medium sized points appearing regularly right round the rim. There should be no points appearing in the centre of the circle. The comb is unique in the chicken world and looks for like a little crown. In winter (in cold climates) the comb can be susceptible to frostbite. The birds will need to be able to get away from the cold.
The skin of both hens and cocks is yellow and the shanks and toes are a willow green. If exhibiting your Sicilian Buttercups in the United States they need white ear lobes but if you take them to the United Kingdom they need red ear lobes. Probably best to have both types in your chicken house.
If it has its own way this breed will roost in tree tops or haylofts. It is available in a bantam size but is probably best suited to an enthusiast who can put up with its inhospitable ways.