Answer: When they happen to be a “hen” who is actually a rooster. Confused? So too were we when we recently received a call from a concerned and kind-hearted member of the public who noticed a little black “hen” pecking about on their lawn recently. The plucky chicken, whilst appearing most at home, wasn’t. Because this green patch or earth was not “her” home, and many calls and door-knocking in the area revealed there was no home anywhere nearby missing one of their feathered friends. But what was nearby was a parkland area inhabited by urban foxes—not a good mix for a lone chicken. With the call for assistance coming in right on our own poultry lock-up time here at Edgar’s Mission, we simply could not abandon the animals in our care to rescue another, but we knew someone who could. With one final call to ensure the “hen” was still at the address, we heard these words, “Oh yes she is; she is happily perched on the window sill as she has been for the last couple of nights”. “Ah, ha,” we thought, “She’s a rooster”– which sadly explains why there was no home for her/him.
Sadly, such stories of rooster abandonment are all too often fielded by rescue groups and animal sanctuaries—despite a moral duty to never cause harm to another living being nor place them in harm’s way, and despite animal protection laws which clearly state under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, s. 9(1)(h), that it is deemed an act of cruelty if a person “abandons an animal of a species usually kept in a state of confinement or for a domestic purpose”. And sadly, it is evident that being born a rooster is all too often a death sentence for so many beautiful, intelligent and sentient beings.
Our Raven is as handsome as he is spectacular, and although still finding his voice and his confidence with humans, he has readily taken to his little group of hens and claimed them as his own. And although his gender may have initially been confusing and his name equally so, one thing is not—Raven is a being who very much deserves to live.