A rooster roams Bay Farm Island
A rooster roams Bay Farm Island
Photo by Michael Lano.
For the past few months, residents of Bay Farm Island have been seeing and hearing something totally out of the ordinary: A rooster has been walking up and down residents’ wood fences, running the length of Harbor Bay Isle’s tracts.
The large rooster with black, brown and tan markings and a bright red wattle and comb – who does not appear to be one of the California white or gray Pullet or Cockerel that are fairly common in this region – appears to be well fed and is growing exponentially.
Several mornings after 7 a.m. have brought an echoed cock-a-doodle-doo for Bay Farm residents – a sound that stands out from the territorial calls of towhees, finches and dark-eyed junkos residents here are used to hearing. The rooster has been spotted during twilight hours, too.
Twice last week he ditched the top of an eight-foot-tall fence to waltz around this reporter’s backyard patio, trying to get a drink out of a ground-resting birdbath while also searching for seeds and bugs to eat. His flying skills appear limited, though some rooster-watchers have said he moves quickly for a big bird.
The bird’s owners – if he has any – have not been identified. No one has laid claim to the rooster, including Bay Farm Island schools. While chickens are permitted, the city’s municipal code effectively prohibits residents from owning roosters (city rules prohibit animals "that unreasonably disturb the peace and comfort of the inhabitants of the neighborhood"), though city officials said late Friday that no one had called to complain.
Harbor Bay Island residents have become protective of the bird, who’s been nicknamed "Terry" – as in Terry Taylor, The Famous Old Red Rooster.
Alameda is home to a wealth of bird species, from the snowy plovers who have taken up residence on Robert W. Crown State Beach to the Cooper’s hawks who nest in the Island’s tallest trees and the egrets who roost on Bay Farm Island.
The rooster isn’t the only apparently wild bird to have fluttered onto Alameda’s shores in recent years. His presence follows that of a pair of wild turkeys who roamed the main Island in 2010.
Alameda biologist Dr. Arturo Gomez suggested the bird may have strayed here in a quest for food or a mate. Roosters, he said, are social animals who typically oversee a large flock.
"The odd weather patterns and early spring-like weather back in February might've prompted him to escape to find a hen or more females to commune with, and rule over as group leader," Gomez said.
So far, no chicken coops on Bay Farm have been reported uncovered. Nor has Terry the Rooster been seen interacting with any other birds – chicken, female or otherwise. No nests or chicken eggs have been spotted either.
Some residents have said they’re entertained by Terry’s presence. Retiree Helen Jang has been keeping an eye out for the unusual visitor; she said she’s seen him five times.
“It's something different and we've never seen anything like that wild around here,” Jang said. “I never hear him make any noise, so he doesn't bother us at all. It's kind of nice."
But others are have tangled with Terry.
“We definitely don't feed him anymore after he began pooping all over our sidewalk and driveway,” said a Basinside Way resident who asked not to be identified. “And he kind of stopped coming around here for his pit stop that used to be from about 6 to 7:30 at night."
The resident said Terry is afraid of their two cats and flies away when he spots them, even though he dwarfs neighborhood cats in size and girth. He appears to be afraid of humans as well, quickly flying back up to the fence and making a hasty retreat while clucking disapprovingly.
The rooster sightings are such a novelty that they’ve prompted Harbor Bay residents like David and Emily Chan to suggest Terry be made an honorary sheriff or deputy mayor. Other cities on the West Coast, like Occidental up past Santa Rosa, have a town rooster walking the streets "serves" as honorary mayor.
"We see him too sometimes walking along our backyard fence and it really is pretty amazing for out here,” they said.
But like many Harbor Bay residents, they are seeking an answer to the big, unanswered question about Terry.
“Does anybody know who he belongs to?”