Calavans being put to fowl use

It seems there is one old time solution that is taking some of the stray chickens and roosters off Grand Cayman’s roadsides and neighbourhoods – the calavan.

Rodney Ebanks

Rodney Ebanks demonstrates how to use a calavan at Cayman Street in Boatswains Beach.
Photo: Cliodhna McGowan

More and more people have been buying these traditional bird traps recently to get rid of nuisance chickens and roosters on their property, said calavan maker Rodney Derrick Ebanks.

And the birds are being dropped off at chicken yards where their eggs are sold to local supermarkets.

Mr. Ebanks, who has worked with Cayman Traditional Arts in West Bay on and off for about five years, has expertise in making calavans and gigs and demonstrating the art of these traditional Caymanian objects.

But now, calavans are selling well not only to tourists, who take miniature versions home as souvenirs, but also to island residents, he said.

‘Lots of people are buying them to trap chickens,’ Mr. Ebanks explained. And the poultry is then being given to at least three local yards where chickens are being raised for their eggs. One of these is in North Side, one in West Bay and another in Savannah. The eggs are then sold to local supermarkets.

Roosters are also dropped off at these yards for breeding purposes.

Cayman Traditional Arts has showcased its calavans for the past three years at the annual Agricultural Show in Grand Cayman.

This year, in particular, there was a large amount of interest in the contraptions from attendees, explained CTA owner Chris Christian.

One property manager bought eight of them at the show in order to eradicate the stray chicken problem at this apartment complex.

While a small souvenir calavan costs CI$15, a larger one to trap a chicken costs CI$75, and an even larger one, suitable for catching roosters, costs about CI$150.

For an extra charge Mr. Ebanks can take the birds to one of the local chicken yards, or he can simply provide the address for the calavan buyer themselves to take the poultry there.

The way the calavan works is that it is tilted on its side and propped by a piece of broken stick placed on a piece of string attached to the calavan. Food is put on the ground under the calavan and when the string is disturbed by a bird the stick collapses in two causing the contraption to collapse on top of the bird, trapping it.

The birds are not injured in the process.

Mr. Ebanks provides the customer with food to trap the bird and instructions on how to set up the calavan.

Currently he can be seen on Boatswain’s Beach’s Cayman Street making calavans.

For further information on Cayman Traditional Arts and their calavans call 926 0119.

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