MOLINE, Illinois — For more than a month, the slightly flightless reddish-brown bird evaded capture from neighbors in Moline’s Olde Towne neighborhood.
In the morning, he’d cautiously come out to explore and look for food, but would flap and fling himself away from anyone who got too close. At night, he’d scoot his way up a sheltering pine tree, too far to reach from the ground and relatively protected from freezing temps.
His name? Foghorn Leghorn and he is a rooster. An escaped rooster, presumably, who is not technically supposed to be living in Moline.
Enter Taylor McMullen, the co-founder of Quad Cities Animal Recovery Team. McMullen, a former animal control officer for Scott County, spends her spare time rescuing animals in peril around the region. She’d heard stories about Moline’s elusive rooster for a few weeks and decided her expertise could help bring him in from the cold.
“I’ve actually captured roosters before,” she said, noting that in chickens, the male of the species tends to be more aggressive, occasionally hostile and skittish of strangers.
Neighbors were worried that Foghorn (that’s the name McMullen gave him, because she’s fond of Warner Bros cartoons) would freeze to death or come to some other unfortunate end. So early the morning of Thursday, Feb. 22 McMullen and two other QCART volunteers traveled to his last known location and the stalk was on.
When he came out for his morning stroll, the trio of well-meaning animal rescuers made their move.
That’s when Foghorn would flap and – sort of – fly away.
“They can only glide about 15 to 20 feet at a time,” McMullen noted, but that was enough to make them look a bit comical chasing the bird across the street and cornering him between a neighbor’s house and a tree. The neighbors across the street joined the rescue party, and McMullen was finally able to use a weighted net to capture the wayward bird.
Once caged, Foghorn mellowed.
“He’s actually really calm and friendly,” McMullen said. “I brought him in and fed him some tomatoes and he chowed down.”
The wayward rooster has been taken in by a foster family for now, McMullen said. She is worried his owner – presumably a Moline resident – may not come forward because the city’s backyard chicken ordinance only allows for hens, not roosters. But even if that is the case, Foghorn should be able to live out his days in peace.
“The fosters have a farm, so if no one comes to claim him, he can stay there,” she said. “He’ll be much happier than running around in the cold and snow.”