Why did the Chicken Cross the Road?

11/12/2013

Animals

I am working part-time at Miya Gallery in downtown Weaverville through the holiday season.  Today when I arrived, my co-worker Sondra Dorn (who creates very nice art) told me that a pretty chicken ran around on Main Street all day yesterday.  Sondra worried about it, she said it was a beautiful bird, although chickens aren’t her favorite animals.  (Something to do with a trip to Denmark and a naked-back chicken she couldn’t bear to look at.)  We went about our business, talked to customers, arranged art, cleaned a bit.  Mid afternoon I looked up and there was a chicken outside the door of the Gallery.

“Look!  The chicken!” I shouted.  Sondra said it was the chicken from yesterday and since we don’t have a lot of chickens on Main Street in Weaverville, I took her word for it.  I opened the door of the shop slowly and the bird started, skittered back, then stopped.  A minute later, it darted into traffic!  Horrors!  Main Street in Weaverville is a state highway, which means slow but consistent traffic.  Weaverville residents stop for jay-walkers, cross-walkers, dogs and chickens alike.  The passers-through tend to be polite, but none of us expect a bird to dart from between parked cars.  I didn’t want to watch, but I did and the chicken successfully crossed the road.

The bird in question was a real looker.  Deep rusty red over the body, those fluffy feathers down the legs that fan out over the feet,  iridescent teal-green tail feathers.  (Which may mean it’s a rooster.) It did seem that the left foot was slightly damaged, though the bird did not limp or seem hurt.  Based on the undeveloped comb, I thought it was about 4-5 months old.  I wondered if it was someone’s free range chicken a bit too far from home, or a rooster someone decided to drop off?  Roosters are loud and can be aggressive. Residential pet owners who keep chickens often find they must get rid of roosters to appease neighbors; many think they must have a rooster to get eggs; not so.  Hens lay without a rooster present.  (I hope “rooster-dropping” doesn’t become a trend.)

green-tail-feathers

Anyway, this bird was in for a cold night, 23 degrees and a bitter wind, thanks to a passing cold front.  Chickens do have built-in down jackets, but the sky was gray and the wind was whipping feathers and hats and the last of the falling leaves east at a brisk pace.  Since I have chickens and I didn’t like the thought of the bird being squished by a car, I said I would attempt to catch it and take it home until I found a farm for it.  I like my flock of three without a rooster, not looking to add a crowing, aggressive boy to the bunch.  Nevertheless, I felt bad about this bird in the cold wind swerving between tires.

I put on my coat and gloves, Sondra gave me a handful of sea salt crackers.  I crushed the crackers in my gloved hand as I crossed the street.  I also took a tin of water.  I began talking to this handsome creature as I approached and I tossed crumbs toward the bird.  I set down the tin full of water and took a step back.  The bird was very thirsty, I bet it drank a half cup, all the while it kept a wary eye on me.  I crushed more crackers, tossing each handful toward the bird, each a bit closer to me, talking to it the way I talk to mine.  When it was a couple of feet away, I attempted hand feeding but it didn’t work.  About that time a woman walking a Rottweiler came along.  The dog was mighty interested in my quarry.  I gave his Mom a lot of credit for seeing me and the bird, controlling the dog and altering her route.  Then I ran out of crackers.  I went back to the Gallery for the Saltines I had left from lunch.  Crushed a bunch and tried again to coax the bird to me.  I had gloves on, and was carrying a blanket that Sondra supplied, if need be I would try to toss the blanket over the bird.  We had a box with a lid ready inside Miya; if I caught the bird, we planned to keep it in the box in the bathroom for an hour until quitting time.  Birds confined in dark places quiet down and relax.

We didn’t get that far.  The bird was obviously used to humans, but between traffic rushing by, dog-walkers, concerned citizens, and the bird’s wary nature, I couldn’t get close enough to catch it.  (I am pretty good at grabbing chickens these days.)  After about 45 minutes my neck was cold, it was getting dark and the bird couldn’t bring itself to trust me.  At least it had a full crop and water.

After Sondra and I closed up shop, I walked back over to the area with a box.  Once a chicken is asleep you can pluck it from a branch and plop it into a box without waking it.  There was no sign of the bird on the ground or in nearby trees.  It’s probably tucked into the boughs of an evergreen waiting for another day on Main Street.  And I’ll probably go back with the treats I call “chicken crack” and see if I can get him tomorrow.

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4 Comments on “Why did the Chicken Cross the Road?”

  1. Jennifer Richardson Says:

    wonderful story, Mary, and I love your beautiful heart
    to chase after and coax that silly, cold bird
    with your foul crack
    to try and save his neck:)
    -Jennifer

    Like

    Reply

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Mary! You are so funny. No sign of the chicken today. Did you go back and look? Maybe he found his way home…

    Like

    Reply

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