They are on camera more than any soap opera actor, and their fan base extends all the way to Europe. But they coudn’t be more clueless about their fame. That’s because they are chickens, and their every daylight move is being broadcast over the worldwide web from a backyard camera in West Tisbury. The webmaster and part-time chicken farmer is Tony Cordray, an understated guy with a sly sense of humor. “It was just boredom a couple winters ago. I had a security camera from a house we were tearing down. I was trying to learn how to write web pages,” said Mr. Cordray, a 48-year-old carpenter and volunteer firefighter. “I was looking for a subject, and there it was.” About a year and a half ago, he mounted the camera on the side of the chicken coop, ran some wires over the grass back into his house and launched his live streaming video chicken cam. Mr. Cordray grew up on a big soybean farm in Lithopolis, Ohio, so he’s familiar with chickens. But when his father gave him a computer two years ago, he decided to merge the digital with the agricultural. It’s an odd mix, to be sure. But that’s not the only reason it’s funny. “If you spend any time around chickens, you realize they are some of the biggest comedians you’ve ever seen,” said Mr. Cordray. Apparently, it’s all in the casting, and this web-based reality show functions with a large and diverse ensemble — more than 30 hens and four roosters. Barred Rocks, White Crested Black Polish, Mille de Fleur and Buff Cochin, among others, unwittingly strut their stuff in front of the camera. “Each one has got its own personality,” said Mr. Cordray. You wouldn’t think it, but watching these free-ranging birds is entertaining. Costuming, or rather plumage, plays a big role. The Buff Cochin looks as if he’s wearing baggy trousers, the feathers cascading down his legs. No surprise, this one is something of a ham, seemingly having figured out that the camera is rolling. “He’ll go up and stand in the camera all the time and peck at it,” said Mr. Cordray. The White Crested Black Polish, a mostly black bird with a wild white headress, is also good for a few laughs. “They’re funny because they can’t see, and they’ll run right into a tree,” said the chicken cam director. Another visual spectacle is the Partridge Rock Bantam, black with rust-colored feathers and looks like a bearded man with a pompadour. Mr. Cordray, who sounds entirely deadpan about his online poultry production, has tossed a few gags into the mix. The main atrraction is Gumby. The three-foot-tall replica of the twisty cartoon character — cut from plywood and painted the requisite green — stands center stage in the chicken pen, looking over the flock and waving to viewers. He’s a big hit with web surfers logging on the site, who number anywhere between 150 and 200 a day. “I love the addition of your new farmhand, Gumby!” wrote one fan last winter. “Just wanted to tell you how much we loved the appearance of Gumby,” wrote Bridget from Connecticut last February. “We all had a good laugh. Chicken cam is great for people with really boring jobs, nothing will make you smile quicker than chickens … they are good for the soul.” In summertime, Mr. Cordray puts out an inflatable version of Gumby, six feet tall, but it’s too windy in the off-season for the gigantic green guy. Gumby’s popularity has at times upstaged the chickens. “Hey! We can’t see Gumby anymore! Can you move the camera so we can all see Gumby again?” one viewer wrote last July. The other visual effect is more deceptive. It’s a toy chicken, and Mr. Cordray can’t even explain why he put it out there. Maybe it’s for the feedback from confused viewers. “I noticed a chicken stayed in the snow yesterday and only moved once. That same chicken is still in the same spot as it was yesterday, and I was wondering if she is okay,” wrote Stefanie last year. “Why is there always one chicken sitting in the same place. What’s up with him?” asked Molly from Texas. Turns out that Mr. Cordray’s practical joking dates back to his teenage years. He’s dubbed his site Nicky Vasalini’s chicken cam. But who is Nicky Vasalini? Well, that was the name that the 14-year-old Cordray blurted out when he got into some trouble in school. The next day, the principal was calling over the loudspeaker for a Mr. Vasalini to report to the office. The nickname stuck. It’s a unique name for a nearly singular type of web site. For one thing, the chicken cam is one of only two live web cams on the Vineyard. The other one, atop The Mansion House in Vineyard Haven, is trained on the Steamship Authority lot and harbor. And surprisingly, even amidst the crowded field known as the worldwide web, Mr. Cordray’s Internet site also appears to be a rarity. He knows of only two other live web cameras focused on chickens — one in England, the other in Belgium. That could explain the international traffic coming into Vasalini’s virtual chicken land. Bernard in Paris, France felt compelled to write to Mr. Cordray last July, “I like a lot your web cam.” Fabian in Normandy asked Mr. Cordray in mid-September to send his “regards to the chickens.” The West Tisbury-based chicken cam has a following in the Scandinavian countries and all over England as well, said Mr. Cordray. Fans of the chickens seem to be touched by the simplicity. One viewer named Don came across the site looking for a picture of a specific breed. He didn’t find it but he stayed nonetheless. “I do believe your site may have been what I needed as it brought boyhood thoughts from a farm long ago.” Mr. Cordray loves the feedback. His site is not about security and keeping a digital eye out for marauding dogs. It’s not about money or sponsored links. It’s about chickens, and on some level, Mr. Cordray feels he is paying homage to the Vineyard’s longstanding relationship with chickens. “It’s an Island thing,” he said. “I’d say a third of the people down this road have chickens.” But who knew the ratings from a West Tisbury chicken coop would be so high. “It’s only the Yanks who have a chicken cam,” wrote Brian last year. “But it is only the Brits who would watch it. Brilliant, will view again.” To see the chickens live, visit the web site at And if you can’t see the birds, heed Mr. Cordray’s web page reminder: “If you see a black screen, it’s local night time.”