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I first thought I was going to be writing the title of this post as My Rooster, Ella — RIP, but, alas!–he lives.  He’s nearly naked, but he lives.  As I write, he is sulking in a corner of the chook house, metaphorically licking his wounds.  I had been away for a couple days, and when I arrived home late last evening this is what greeted me at the front gate to the courtyard:

Plucked!

There were clumps of feathers strewn all around;  piles of them, a path of them.

My first thought was Which chook was it?  Even, How many?–there were that many feathers…  As I unburdened myself of the armload of stuff one always takes on a road trip but never needs, four black chooks ran up to greet me.  They were all aflutter, clucking and clacking, and I immediately noticed that all three hens were there,  as was Louie. (AKA Satchmo).  It was Ella, the Head Rooster, that was missing!  Well, I can tell you, I was shocked.  Also missing was Blossom, dearie, but I couldn’t see any white feathers, so I figured she was already in bed.

As I headed down to the chook house, following the trail of feathers and surrounded by a gabble of chattering chooks all eager to tell me what had happened, I was half looking, and half trying not to look for the carcass of my cheeky Ella.  To distract–and hopefully even settle–the other chooks I gave them some cheese.  That’s when I noticed Ella standing about thirty metres away, amidst the trees.  He looked fine, upright and alert, except that the back half of him looked ready for the roasting pan.  He was plucked to within an inch of his life–totally bare-naked from his shoulders. Not a single tail feather remained; only his head and wings remained recognizable as a black rooster.  When I started to go closer, he ran further into the bush, then stopped and watched the rest of the crowd eating his favorite thing in the world.  I’m sure he was embarrassed.

I worried whether he would return to the chook house for the night, but this morning he was there.  Meanwhile Louie has embraced his new role as Head Rooster with gusto. Perhaps a bit too much gusto, in fact.  And far more crowing than is strictly necessary.  I’ll never know what really happened while I was away, but several questions prey on my mind:

  • Does any other creature than a bird or a human pluck a live chicken?  I think the answer is no.
  • Would a bird of prey hold down a live chook and systematically pluck it, and allow it to escape and run away?  Hard to imagine.
  • (Here’s where it gets really delicate.)  Would a rival rooster–possibly with the help of some excited hens–be able to challenge the Head Rooster for his position, pulling out his feathers but not killing him?    I don’t know.   But it’s a worry.

I’m just glad I don’t have pigs.              MM

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