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Rooster Chivalry

By Audrey Pavia, Urban Farm Contributing Editor

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rooster and hen

Courtesy Audrey Pavia

Mr. Mabel the rooster escorts one of his hens around the urban farm.

Whoever said chivalry is dead never spent any time around roosters. Sometimes I just can’t get over how gracious and doting roosters are with their hens.

At my urban farm, Mr. Mabel is the top roo (beating out his brother Mr. Molly, at least this year). Mr. Mabel deserves to be the guy in charge because nothing is as important to that rooster as his five hens.

Mr. Mabel spends much of his day looking for good stuff to eat. Not for himself, mind you, but for his girls. If he comes upon some grubs in the dirt or if I toss out a piece of fruit on the lawn, he summons the ladies like only a rooster can: by dipping his head and making a distinct clucking sound that is only used for such an occasion. The hens know exactly what this means, and they come running from every direction to see what their man has found for them.

This ritual is particularly impressive on the rare occasions when I bring home a container of mealworms. I sit down on the ground and call Mr. Mabel, who runs over, sees that a mealworm feast is about to occur, and begins to call his harem. When they come running, he feeds them, taking each mealworm from my hand and placing it in front of a hen. What’s so amazing is that he will hand out at least 10 mealworms to the girls before eating one himself. And I know how much he loves mealworms. But the ladies come first.

Mr. Mabel is also a guy you can count on in times of trouble. If I disturb one of the hens as she attempts to hatch an egg in the coop (not allowed—we don’t need any more chickens), the loud squawk of objection quickly gets the attention of Mr. Mabel. He comes running as fast as he can to see what is going on, and gets in my space. He doesn’t know what it is I’m doing to upset his lady, but it doesn’t matter. She’s in distress and he’s the man on the job.

Of course, all this gallant behavior comes with a price. When Mr. Mabel is in the mood for love, “no” is not an acceptable answer. The hens have learned that if they want first dibs at the mealworms and someone to rescue them when times are tough, they need to make it worth his while. And they do, with rarely a complaint.

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Cute story.

Our rooster was extremely tame but his hens weren't. They start squawking in fear when we came around and he would rush over to their rescue. When he discovered the cause of their complaint he would get mad and give them a peck or two. I can just hear him telling them, "It's just THEM. Why on earth are you making a fuss?"
Galadriel, Lothlorien, ME
Posted: 1/25/2012 4:37:05 PM
I always thought of roosters as being more of a cocky pest rather than a gentleman. Great read! Thanks!
Chuck, Reno, NV
Posted: 1/21/2012 1:36:52 AM
Roosters are simply amazing. I hate that I can only see one side of this amazing animal. I really don't know a chicken until I experience keeping a roo and hen. But alas, roos aren't allowed in my city. They are so discriminated against, yet I have to hear my neighbor's dog bark at any time of day or night.
Jeri, St. Louis, MO
Posted: 10/8/2010 8:32:04 PM
We didn't have roosters on the farm. Your story about Mr. Mabel gives me a whole different perspective of roosters and their girls.
David, Omaha, NE
Posted: 9/28/2010 5:58:39 AM

About the Blogger

Audrey Pavia

Audrey Pavia
Keeping farm animals in the city can be a real hoot. Follow freelance writer Audrey Pavia's adventures in Southern California with a yard full of urban livestock, including horses, chickens, a Corgi and an urban barn cat. She somehow manages all these silly critters while working full-time, with no one to help her but her husband, Randy, a born-and-raised New Yorker. And you thought "The Simple Life" was out there?

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