Monday, September 14, 2009

Bonnie and Clyde: Two chickens on the run!

In late summer of 1997, my wife and I were driving to Duluth (75 miles away) on Interstate 35 and went to use the facilities at a wooded rest stop located near a little pond. We noticed a pair of brown and grey half-grown chickens running around and asked the caretaker about them.  He told us they had showed up a couple weeks ago -- probably dumped there -- and he had been trying unsuccessfully to catch them in a live trap. He wasn't even sure they were really chickens -- he thought they might be pheasants -- but I assured them that yes, they were indeed chickens, only not the usual white-feathered commercial variety.

I asked if we could have the chickens and he said yes, if we can catch them, we can have them -- good riddance! Well, the best way to catch a chicken on the run is not with a trap. Rather, you figure out where they are roosting and come back at night. So I asked where they hung out at dusk, and he told me they went into some short evergreens. I looked under the trees and sure enough, there were chicken droppings on the ground. It was about 5:00 PM and we would not be back from Duluth until after dark, so I said I would bring a box and capture them then. This particular caretaker had just come on duty and said he would still be there when we got back.

Around midnight we returned, borrowed a flashlight, and headed for those trees. The two chickens were roosting on a branch about 6 feet off the ground. I simply picked them up and put them in the box, no problem. The caretaker was amazed at how easy it was. (But then, we are experienced Chicken Busters!) We took them home, put them into an empty breeding cage in the coop, and went to bed.

Next day, when I examined the chickens more closely, I could see we had a young rooster and a hen. We dubbed them Bonnie and Clyde because they were captured "on the run." They turned out to be some kind of gamecock variety. Clyde had a lovely silver-grey breast with golden hackle feathers, a reddish rump and shoulders, and a flowing silver-grey tail. Bonnie was brown and did indeed resemble a pheasant -- without the long pointed tail.

Clyde eventually sired a number of chicks with Bonnie and some of our other hens, and was an excellent watch-bird around the yard. He was friendly with people, but don't let a predator come around! He actually attacked my old sheepdog, Grett, who everafter stayed away from the chicken yard. (Grett didn't chase chickens, but Clyde was making sure!)

Bonnie lived to be 8 years old and died in the spring of 2005. Clyde lived to be 9 and died in the late winter of 2006. Both are buried in our pet cemetery now, but left many descendants behind, including. Rocky Rooster, the cocky bird on the covers of my Happy Rooster eBay selling series, who was a cross between Clyde and a Barred Rock hen.  (He, too, has now crossed the Rainbow Bridge.)  And so, their memory lives on!

Rock Rooster, son of Clyde,
inspired my eBay store,
"The Happy Rooster"

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Lovely story! That is the way to catch them. When ever we need to give meds or treatments to our flock we always approach at night. I am really glad you took the effort to rescue them and give them a good long life. Thank You.