Whats the difference between a bird and a chicken?

A chicken is a bird. One of the features that differentiate it from most other birds is that it has a comb (the red appendage on the top of the head) and two wattles (the two appendages under the chin).

Most birds can fly high, while chickens can't. Domestic chickens have essentially lost the ability to fly. Heavy breeds used for meat production cannot do more than flap their wings and jump to a little higher level or move more rapidly along the ground. The lighter-bodied birds can fly short distances, and some can fly over relatively high fences. The feet and shank portions of the legs have scales.

Chicken is the ubiquitous food of our era, crossing multiple cultural boundaries with ease. With its mild taste and uniform texture, chicken presents an intriguingly blank canvas for the flavor palette of almost any cuisine.

Long after the time when most families had a few hens running around the yard that could be grabbed and turned into dinner, chicken remains a nostalgic, evocative dish for most Americans. Find out how the chicken achieve such cultural and culinary dominance at Smithsonianmag.com.

Roast it, quarter it and fry it, poach it, braise it: whatever way you like it, whole chickens are the backbone of the kitchen. So when you’re buying one, make sure you know what you’re getting.

Updated on Tuesday, June 30 2015 at 11:22AM EDT
Collection: chicken