An unusual flock of birds has taken up residence at the Bodalla Park Rest Area – although you could hardly call these birds rare.
At the time of writing at least seven roosters are living in perfect harmony in the scrub, surviving on scraps from campers and food from friendly locals.
While any chook owner worth their salt knows roosters often fight if kept together, when there are no hens to compete over they’re more than capable of living in small bachelor groups.
A couple who spent two nights camping in the rest area were a little surprised to find the flock, and posted a photo to Facebook, in case they had gone missing from someone’s backyard.
Locals quickly reassured them that the roosters were long-term residents of the rest area, likely dumped, and in good health.
“The roosters were very friendly and I was just worried about them,” one of the campers said.
“But they are surviving well.
“I just don’t want anybody to harm them or euthanise them or whatever other bad things people might do to some dumped roosters.”
Keeping roosters is not permitted in residential areas in the Eurobodalla, except in areas zoned R5, or rural areas, however, many people keep backyard chooks, often raising them from hatchlings – and it’s very difficult to tell the sex of a baby chick.
Sometimes a cute bird grows up to be an assertive, outspoken rooster, rather than a quiet laying chook.
Depending on the tolerance of the owner – and their neighbours – the rooster might be allowed to stay in the yard.
Unfortunately, if the crowing causes problems, roosters are often dumped in the bush to fend for themselves, where they contend against foxes, feral cats and loneliness.
Chickens are social birds, who can recognise up to 100 individual faces – whether those faces belong to people or other chooks.
Luckily the boys at Bodalla have each other – but they still have to deal with predators and the elements.
If you’ve got a surprise rooster – or a rooster too many – there are options for dealing with them, rather than dumping them at a camp site.
Like cats and dogs, roosters can be put up for adoption.
Organisations like the RSPCA will rehome roosters, but adoption rates are very low. Alternatively, you can find a home for a rooster yourself by advertising on social media, or reaching out to a local rescue group.
Some have members who are able to take on roosters, and may even have palatial bachelor pads.
Unfortunately, these kind people are often overwhelmed by the number of roosters needing homes, and may not be able to squeeze more residents in.
The other option is to cull the roosters. This option is very distressing for many people, especially if the roosters were hand raised from baby chicks.
If the possibility of having to rehome, or cull, roosters is upsetting, and you don’t live in an area where they can be kept, other types of fowl may be a better fit.
Ducks can also be kept in the backyard, are highly social, lay plenty of eggs and – most importantly – if your little girl grows up to be a boy, he can continue to live with you.
For the cost of a paddle pool, that’s a pretty sweet deal for all people – and poultry – involved.