CHICAGO (CBS) — What happens when you find a stray chicken in Chicago? It sounds like the makings of a joke, but it sent CBS 2 Morning Insider Vince Gerasole on a wild chicken chase.
Kevin Barry scratched and clawed his way trying to find a home for the bird his family found wandering in their alley.
Under a pouring rain, its feathers slightly ruffled, a chicken takes refuge.
“My guess is it’s very stressed from losing its home, and being in the rain, and meeting these new people,” Barry said.
This is no rural barnyard, it’s an urban backyard in Lakeview.
“Sure enough, there’s a chicken walking down the alley,” Barry said.
Barry said the stray bird walked his life when his wife and kids noticed it meandering through the neighborhood, “just kind of waddling along like chickens do.”
“I didn’t want to pick the chicken up. They have claws and beaks, and I don’t know how to handle chickens,” he said.
The Barry family coaxed the chicken into their yard, gave it shelter in a plastic crate, and installed an old baby gate at the garden entrance.
“Then we started putting out some food, googling what do you feed chickens,” Barry said.
They also began searching lost chicken posts, and began circulating flyers of the bird they called Mister.
“We’ve had people say ‘I think this chicken has been walking around for a while. I heard about it before in Logan square,’” Barry said. “We see a picture. It’s a completely different chicken.”
In Chicago, keeping chickens for pets or for eggs is not prohibited, neither are roosters. There are no limits on how many you can have, as long as the birds are kept in safe sanitary conditions.
“One of the neighbors suggested calling Animal Control, and I worried Animal Control was just going to kill the chicken,” Barry said.
That’s what led the Barry family to places like Chicago Chicken Rescue on the South Side. It’s already home to a peacock, a turkey, and about 80 chickens; many placed there by animal control.
“We take pretty much all birds,” said Goodwyn Lane. “You’ve heard of foster homes for dogs or cats, and we’re like that, but on a much larger scale, and with chickens.”
Over the past four years, they have placed about 800 roosters and chickens with adopters.
Though Barry braved the elements keeping Mister warm and fed, this bird eventually will have to fly the coop.
“I’m happy to help it now. It’s a really sweet chicken, I like it, but we’re not looking to adopt,” he said.
Barry said even though he touched base with Chicago Chicken Recue, his feathered friend eventually found a home at Stardust Animal Sanctuary, a similar rescue mission in Richmond, Illinois, near the Wisconsin state line.