Baddest bird in the whole damn town

Lisa recounts the Legend of the Phantom Chicken of Sonoma, and even has pictures of the mysterious bird:

[F]or the past month or so, I’ve been fretting about a rooster who seems to have been abandoned in some wild land across the road from our back pasture. This is an area that, unfortunately, has been used for a long time for dumping, for teen partying and other nefarious activities. It’s also an area overrun with foxes and coyotes — who are so bold as to come out and sit there staring across at the terriers behind the fence. So, when I heard a rooster crowing from over in that area, I immediately assumed that he’d last about a day and a night before being torn apart by wild canids.

He lasted a day and a night and several weeks more. Clearly his sense of timing is nonstandard:

Instead of crowing at dawn, he crowed continuously day and night. Since chickens are flock animals, I assumed he was desperately calling for his hens. To dump off a rooster in the wilds like this is tantamount to sentencing him to solitary in Guantanamo. Except solitary confinement would come with the added danger of evisceration by wild animals. I began cursing the creep who couldn’t find a new home for the poor avian — or at least give him a merciful and meaningful end as Coq au Vin.

Still, he’s avoided that evisceration for a month now. For all we know, the Phantom Chicken may be the avian equivalent of The Shadow, clouding the minds of predators. Or maybe it’s just that coyotes have become leery of unusual birds after all these years.


  1. Dan B »

    6 April 2011 · 8:34 am

    Roosters will crow as long as they see any light and regardless of the presence of other chickens. The idea that they only crow in the morning is one of those ‘rural legends’, like the one about cow tipping.

  2. fillyjonk »

    6 April 2011 · 10:09 am

    There’s one somewhere in my neighborhood (though roosters are technically not legal in town as either pets or farm animals) and the dang thing does crow all the live-long day.

    I’ve also seen guineafowl in town. I guess I should be grateful that it’s a rooster and not a pack of guineas I have in my neighborhood, because guineafowl can be freakin’ LOUD.

  3. Lisa Paul »

    6 April 2011 · 11:14 am

    Chaz, you solved the mystery of The Phantom Chicken’s survival. He, not the coyotes, has an account at Acme.

  4. CGHill »

    6 April 2011 · 11:38 am

    I’ve always suspected that the desert birds actually owned Acme. (Remember the Earthquake Pills? In very small print: “Not effective on Road-Runners.”)

    See also Ian Frazier’s Coyote v. Acme, followed by this response.

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