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Rocky the Rooster struts his stuff at Chico State. (Heather Hacking/Contributed)

Life is more fun when you have a fowl friend, and sometimes one friend leads to another.

I was walking mindlessly along my usual path from office to car, likely looking down at my phone, or maybe my shoes, when I noticed two young women pointing and laughing in my direction. I heard the word “chicken” and instinctively looked down at my purse.

It’s not unusual for me to carry the rubber chicken in my purse, but I quickly remembered that the chicken now lives in Kenya. (That’s another story and one likely to be shared in the column soon).

There’s a chicken chasing you, the gals said when my neck spun in their direction, and that’s when I saw the bird, close on my heels. I turned and made eye contact, and the bird hopped into the bushes.

I took this as an important sign that I needed to buy a replacement for the rubber chicken that I recently had given to Immaculate of Kenya.

For several mornings in a row, I saw the bird, which is a rooster and not a chicken. One day, he was on the other side of the cyclone fence, perhaps crossing the track for some wildly speculated reason. He hopped along the fenceline, nearly keeping pace with my stride.  We shared another brief moment on the walk behind the student health center, but soon he disappeared into the foliage.

Rocky the Rooster makes his way around the Chico State campus. (Heather Hacking/Contributed)
Rocky the Rooster makes his way around the Chico State campus. (Heather Hacking/Contributed)

I worried a bit that some ne’er-do-well would scoop him up, to add to a caged backyard flock or to put into a boiling tub of water. I often see members of the campus groundskeeping crew, doing the good job that they do, and hoped they would not feel the need to rid the campus of a non-native bird. “My” rooster could be seen peering out from one of those humane traps used to catch possums that sneak into people’s garages to eat the dog food, or skunks that have sprayed a backyard one too many times.

Or maybe some prankster could decide to rescue the rooster and deposit him with his kin along Highway 99 near the parking lot of Wendy’s in Yuba City.

I took it upon myself to track down Mike Alonzo, the Manager of Grounds and Landscape at Chico State. I had a list of other things I had been meaning to ask about the campus, because I admire the landscaping just about every day. After learning much about my favorite flowering tree and riparian plants, I worked in my questions about my new friend.

“I want you to know that in no way am I hoping to get the rooster in trouble.”

“You mean Rocky?” Mike said in recognition.

“He has a name?”

“Yes, some of the groundskeepers call him Rocky the Rooster.”

After I was assured there was no plan for Rocky’s involuntary displacement, Mike shared more of the story.

This is not the first time the campus has hosted yardbirds. Mike said Rocky has been the third or fourth in the past seven years.

“We let them be.”

So far, Rocky and others who have come before have been mostly harmless. A while back, there was a bird known to sun himself on cars parked in the stadium lot, resulting in some droppings on the hood of cars. Yet, this is nothing new. In the summer, it’s a tradeoff to find a parking space under the shade of a tree, knowing that this will likely result in bird splatch on my windshield. I’m positive this was not rooster droppings.

After I heard the good news that Rocky was entitled to remain in his hidden roost, I was more convinced I should get to know him better. The same day I chatted with Mike on the phone, Rocky literally called out to me.


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