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Attack Roosters and Swans

I watched the video three times, and each time I laughed — laughed hard. The video was captured by one of those fancy Ring doorbell cameras, triggered when a UPS driver approached a homeowner’s porch in an attempt to deliver two small boxes. The homeowners’ rooster intervened that day.

The UPS driver raised his hands in the air — a parcel in each hand — trying to make himself look even larger than he is so the chicken wouldn’t bother him. But the feisty fowl, whose name is Fred, wasn’t fooled. The “guard rooster” strutted around the yard blocking the man’s access to the front steps of the house. For a few seconds, the driver and the chicken were in a tense standoff. Finally, the UPS driver spotted an opening and sprinted up the steps, placed the two boxes on the door mat, looked right at the camera and said, “Not cool!” Then the camera caught him in a mad dash for his truck — Fred, the rooster, right on the man’s heels with every step. Just before the driver leapt into the big brown UPS truck, he let out a scream that sounded like a squeal from a little girl.

“We’re trained to deal with dogs and stuff,” the UPS driver said in an interview last week. “But that’s the first time I’ve ever run into a rooster.”

Roosters can be mean. I know firsthand. I grew up with a backyard full of chickens. For the most part, they minded their own business, and I minded mine. But every now and then, out of the blue, one of the roosters would come at me for no reason.

In my family’s flock, three bantam roosters seemed to be the most aggressive. If I stopped in the middle of the backyard and simply held one foot out in front of me, one of them would see it as a challenge — like throwing down the gauntlet. He’d come racing over to my foot and attack, feathers flying everywhere.

The meanest rooster we owned was a small, rust-colored rooster my dad named Rojo (pronounced “Ro Ho”), after a notorious rooster Archie Campbell sang about in an ancient song.

Rojo chased me across the backyard many, many times — for many, many miles. Of course, he never really hurt me. But when anything charges at you all of a sudden, instincts kick in. You run.

And so I ran. I ran as fast as my little feet would go, so I understand why the UPS driver was in such a hurry to get the heck out of the yard last week when Fred the rooster went after him.

None of our backyard chickens ever hurt me, and so I didn’t develop a healthy fear of fowl.

Fast forward to a few years ago. My husband and I drove over to scenic Berry College to explore. We stopped at a place on the college’s map called Swan Lake. The two of us stood by a small pond filled with white and black swans. I squatted down low and took some photos of the graceful creatures with my camera. That’s about the time we heard a weird noise coming from behind us. We looked and saw a big black swan with a crazy look in his eyes. My husband retreated quickly.

“You better get in here,” he yelled from the safety of the truck. “That swan is mad.”

I laughed at my husband’s unwarranted fear, turned, and took a few more photos. I didn’t know what hit me when the swan attacked, pulling out a plug of hair from my head. I managed to get up off the grass and run. As I raced away, the swan lunged again and bit my rear end through my clothing. Somehow, I got into the truck and slammed the door closed.

“I told you that swan was mad,” my husband responded.

The attack left a reddish-purple bruise on my butt the size of a baseball. It was sore for over a week, and changed how I see the world — fowl, in particular. I have a healthy respect for their territories and boundaries now.

Seeing the video of the rooster chasing the UPS driver out of the yard last week made me think of my own encounter with the swan and filled me with gratitude. I sure am thankful that no one caught the swan attack on video and shared it with the world — glad I don’t have to relive it over and over again, as millions of people like me laugh.

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