You’ve Never Seen Chickens Look This Human

Peculiar portraits of championship chickens, by award-winning photographer Tamara Staples
Black Japanese Bantam Cock Class: Single Comb Clean Legged Other Than Game Bantams Origin: Japan Tamara Staples

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Who’s the fairest fowl of all? In her new book The Magnificent Chicken, Brooklyn-based photographer Tamara Staples makes a strong case for the purebred Gallus gallus domesticus, from the ultra-dignified Black Langshan Cockerel to the eccentric Beaded Buff Laced Polish Frizzle Bantam Hen. If you have never been to a poultry show, you’ve probably never even imagined chickens as diverse and stunning as the ones in Staples’ portraits.

The book begins with an interview and essay by This American Life host Ira Glass. “What happens when you try to treat a chicken they way we treat humans, even if it is just for the length of a photo shoot?” Glass writes. “What happens, it turns out, is you learn just what the thin line is that divides human beings from birds.”

See the gallery for 11 prize-winning barnyard beauties from The Magnificent Chicken.