Reader Submission: A Rooster Named Chickadee

A recent article in indicates that the Board of Aldermen is considering banning roosters from the city, apparently because of a few complaints lodged by citizens who seem to think roosters make too much noise and, consequently, are a nuisance. Will poodles and parakeets be next?

I understand that the population of Oxford is now approximately 23,000. If three people complain about roosters, doesn’t that leave approximately 20,000 people who either like or have no problem with roosters? Should we have a ban on them because three people complain?

A few years ago a tiny gamecock wandered into my yard uninvited and unannounced and provided me with several years of pleasure. I learned about him in the previously-published description that follows.

“What kinda chickadee you got out there in the bushes?” asked the carpenter who was building a deck on my house.

“Chickadee?” I asked. “I don’t have anything living out there.”

“Yep, you do,” he responded, “I been seeing him for a couple of days! He’s bright red and must be scared of me, ‘cause he hides when I’m around, but I’ve seen him several times.”

I thought no more about the conversation, but several days after the carpenter left I was in the backyard when I saw a glimpse of red. I remembered what had been said, and I sat quietly in the deck chair and watched. Soon I saw a patch of red and green feathers slowly exit the bushes and start scratching in the grass at the edge of the wooded area. When I moved, he quickly eased back out of sight.

Photo courtesy of Bettye Galloway.

I looked in my pantry and found a package of un-popped popcorn. I filled a bowl with water and took it with the popcorn to the general vicinity where I had seen the fowl. Placing them on the grass, I softly called, “Here, Chickadee, here Chickadee,” and went back into the house. I watched through the window until I saw him gingerly ease out to the corn and water. He was a beautiful gamecock and became “Chickadee,” the name the carpenter had first given him. I left the corn and water each day, and in a few days he would appear even when I was sitting outside on the deck. As time passed, he would appear as I waited quietly with the food. He would bravely get closer and closer to me, and one day he accidentally brushed my ankle. The next day he actually came to my ankle, and from then on every time I walked in the yard, Chickadee walked beside me brushing against my ankle.

Chickadee was a beautiful bird—who arrived at my house from God knows where—with red and green and black feathers that glistened like they were freshly oiled. He lived in my back yard and patrolled the perimeters constantly. When I opened the door to go to the mailbox, the security chime would alert him, and he would sail around the house to walk with me to the street, and then he would return to the backyard. When I left for work in the mornings, he was on the crest of the roof watching as I backed out of the driveway.

Since owning fowl was probably illegal in the city, I was afraid one of my neighbors would report him to the Health Department, but they all seemed to enjoy his low-key crowing every morning from his perch in the magnolia tree. He made friends with his neighbor, Annie, who was a huge black fuzzy dog who was always within her fenced-in back yard. They would “talk” through the fence, and Chickadee would crawl through the fence and share Annie’s food.

One day I saw in the yard a blue fuzzy bear that I knew was Annie’s toy. I was puzzled because Annie never came into my yard. I picked up the toy and tossed it back over the fence into Annie’s yard. The next day, I again saw Annie’s blue bear in my yard. Puzzled more than ever, I once again tossed it over the fence. The next day I looked out and couldn’t believe my eyes—Chickadee was coming through the fence pulling Annie’s toy! Chickadee was gorgeous, but he was a thief!

Photo courtesy of Bettye Galloway.

Our town offers a wonderful service—the citizens can rake leaves to the curb, and the city workers come by with a gigantic vacuum cleaner that sucks up the leaves and trash—no bagging. Consequently, I would rake leaves onto an old sheet, drag it across the yard, and empty it at the curb. Chickadee, at my ankle as usual, would watch every move I made. After several trips with the sheet, as I started to the curb to empty it again, he hopped up on it; the movement, however, caused him to fall off. The next time I pulled the loaded sheet toward the curb, he once again hopped up on it. I moved it very slowly until he got his sea legs, and he rode it all the way to the curb. From that time on, he was a regular passenger on the sheet. I was unable to get a photo of him on the sheet because the moment I stopped pulling it, he hopped off.

Chickadee was a grand friend over the course of several years. He never made demands and only expected his daily popcorn and water. His constant presence against my ankle told me that I was loved and the love was mutual. He would look at me with twinkling eyes, and if birds could smile, he did. He would never occupy any of the birdhouses or cages I bought for him, always preferring the limb on the magnolia tree that overlooked a transom window. He would sit on his limb, watching through the window as I worked on my computer in the den. He was always there.

He was always there until the day I came home to find only a pile of feathers under the magnolia tree and a trail of feathers across the yard. It was a lucky day for the chicken hawk that had a great meal. I hope he enjoyed Chickadee as much as I did. I have lost great human friends, but I did not cry for them. I cried when I lost Chickadee.

So, I recommend that members of the Oxford Board of Aldermen think twice before they cast their votes for banning pet roosters. The next issue that comes before them might be to ban their child’s puppy.

Bettye Galloway is retired from the University of Mississippi and as an executive vice president of an analytical laboratory. She can be reached at


  1. Believe me there are more than three people in town that are bothered by roosters! Some people work late at night and when a rooster starts up at 5:00 every morning and crows most all of the day it gets very tiresome!!!

    Everyone wants to be a good neighbor, so most don’t complain. Being a good neighbor should go both ways!

    Most of us suffer in silence!

  2. Awesome, Bettye Galloway! I had the honor of meeting Chickadee, and he was a delightful pet. I’m concerned that the City of Oxford is over-reacting to a few complaints.

  3. Bettye Galloway– I indicated in my little story that I thought the rooster was an illegal immigrant at the time, but I allowed him to stay because I didn’t have the heart to roast him for dinner. He provided me with a lot of pleasure.

    I have no strong feelings about the proposed ordinance—I was simply renewing my memories of a wonderful pet and indicating how glad I was for having had him at the time. Whatever happens with the change in the ordinance, the publicity has provided much interesting and delightful conversation at this week’s Oxford dinner tables.

  4. Loved your story! So sad that a very few people dictate to the majority what can and can’t happen these days.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.