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The Strange Tale of Mike the Headless Chicken

Updated on October 2, 2013

Headless Chicken?!

There once was a chicken named Mike, he seemed a normal chicken. He liked to scratch and roost, and do chicken-y things. Mike was a bit different from other chickens though, he was different because he didn't have a head. That's right, he was a headless chicken. This lens tells Mike's story, the story of a not-so-bird-brained bird.

Mike Was A What?!

Chicken picture from dungodung
Chicken picture from dungodung

The Short Story on Mike the Headless

Like most chickens in those days, Mike was destined to become dinner. On Monday, September 10, 1945 at 6:45am, the farmer decided it was Mike's time, so went and grabbed him and chopped off his head. Like a lot of headless chickens, this one ran around for a bit after getting the chop. Usually that doesn't last too long though so the farmer waited...and waited...and waited. The chicken kept moving.

Days later the chicken was still alive, even minus his head. People started coming to the farm to check out the chicken, and he got really popular. People came from miles around to see him. Someone arrived one day and said he wanted to be the chicken's manager and take him to fairs and such. By this time Mike, as he had been named, was doing fine even without his head, so the farmer, seeing a way to earn some money, said sure.

Worried that the chicken would die of hunger now that they were going to be making lots of money from him, they started feeding Miracle Mike with an eyedropper. They toured and did fairs and Mike became a hero of sorts. Thousands of people turned out to see him everywhere he went. He was on magazine covers and studied by lots of scientists too.

Occasionally Mike would start choking and the farmer would use a syringe to suction out his throat, but one night Mike started choking and the farmer didn't have the syringe to help him. So, Mike finally died 18 months after his head was chopped off.

Mike the Headless Chicken

Headless Chicken Mailbox

Headless Chicken Mailbox picture from thievingjoker
Headless Chicken Mailbox picture from thievingjoker

Mike Trailer

This one is sick, cute, and funny

Chicken with No Head at Ripley's Museum

Headless chicken picture from cliff1066
Headless chicken picture from cliff1066

More Headless Mike

Looks Like Everyone Loves Headless Chickens

Chicken cat picture from bubblemonkey
Chicken cat picture from bubblemonkey

Mike the Headless Chicken for President

In 2008, along with the numerous other candidates, Mike ran for president of the United States. He may not have beat out Obama, but there's always the next election.

People Who Knew Him, Reminiscing about Mike

The part about Mike starts around 4:20

Chicken in Ripley's Believe it Not Museum

Ripley's Believe It or Not

Ripley's Believe It Or Not episode featuring the story of Mike the Headless Chicken. They are a bit mixed up though. He didn't live for 4 years, he lived for 18 months, and he didn't choke on a corn kernel, he choked on fluid.

Headless Chicken Songs

A couple of songs about headless chickens

Headless Mike - By Radioactive Chicken Heads

One of the songs from above in all it's full glory ;-)

The Ballad of Mike the Headless Chicken

So, How Did Mike Survive?

As you're all probably wondering by now, how did Mike live without a head? Well, it turns out that the farmer's wife, loved eating chicken neck, so when killing chickens for supper, the farmer usually tried to save as much of the neck as possible by cutting a little higher than most. He did cut off Mike's head, but he just missed the brain stem at the base of the neck, which is what controls most bodily functions. Thus, Mike was able to still function, though he may have been the ultimate bird brain ;-)

Headless Chicken Festival
Headless Chicken Festival

Mike the Headless Chicken Festival

Once a year, there is a grand event in the small town of Fruita, Colorado. It's a festival, a festival celebrating Mike, the Headless Chicken. Fruita was the original home of Mike the headless, before he became all famous and lost his head. Now they celebrate Mike, and his life, by having a fun gathering and eating chicken as well as doing lots of other activities. Every year Mike the Headless Chicken Festival is held on the 3rd weekend in May.. Now is the time to start planning to attend next year's so you can celebrate Mike too, or just eat lots of chicken ;-)

Picture from Skelekitty (Krissi Sandvik)

Information About Mike the Headless Chicken Festival

Mike the Headless Chicken Day Festival

Location of Fruita, Colorado

Where Mike grew to headlessness and the location of the Headless Chicken Festival.

At the Headless Chicken Festival in Fruita, Colorado

A family's visit to the Mike the Headless Chicken Festival in Fruita. It's primarily shots of the kids, but it's pretty cute.

The Collective Chicken Cookbook - The Mike the Headless Chicken Cookbook

The Collective Chicken Cookbook: The Mike the Headless Chicken Cookbook
The Collective Chicken Cookbook: The Mike the Headless Chicken Cookbook
This spiral-bound recipe book is the official Fruita, Colorado Mike the Headless Chicken cookbook and features a great many chicken recipes.

Chick Flick - The Miracle Mike Story -- the true story of Mike The Headless Chicken!

CHICK FLICK: The Miracle Mike Story -- the true story of Mike The Headless Chicken!
CHICK FLICK: The Miracle Mike Story -- the true story of Mike The Headless Chicken!
Get the only AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY of Mike The Headless Chicken on DVD! This is the outlandish (yet true) story of Miracle Mike who, in 1945, cleverly avoided becoming an entree during a misguided axe swing. Instead, this plucky bird survived 18 months -- without his head! Mike The Headless Chicken was featured in Life Magazine, Ripley's Believe It Or Not, and The Guinness Book of World Records. To this day, he continues to inspire, appall and amuse people around the world -- most notably at the annual Mike The Headless Chicken Days in Fruita, Colorado.

What do you think of Mike? Think it's silly, outrageous, or just plain odd? Leave a comment and share your opinion :)

Reader Feedback

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    • RawBill1 profile image


      9 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      Weird.....very weird! But I love it! LOL

    • Shorebirdie profile image


      9 years ago from San Diego, CA


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Interesting story.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      i didn't know about mike before. i should've seen him. he was a sure miracle

    • Tyla MacAllister profile image

      Tyla MacAllister 

      10 years ago

      I have heard the story of Mike before but I didn't realize he had become such a phenomenon.I did not know he has his own festival. I think it's great people still remember him with such humor and affection. His short life was truly a miracle.

      *This lens has been blessed by a Squid Angel.*

    • Biomechanoid profile image


      10 years ago

      That's just plain crazy! Didn't know about that until now!

    • CCGAL profile image


      10 years ago

      I knew the story of Mike the Headless Chicken, but omigosh, you've illustrated the story with so many cool videos and neat items, plus the festival info - I can't imagine there's anything else out there about Mike. Way Cool Lens!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      An amazing story and an amazing lens. I've heard that chickens run around a bit after beheading but I've never heard of anything like that before.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      I just saw a story about Mike on TV - so I had to see if someone had made a lens... and you have. Great story!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      11 years ago from Central Florida

      This is the most incredible thing. Thanks for explaining how it was possible.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Poor Mike, but at least he has songs written about him!


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