When he called us, Harold Mercer and his wife Virginia had been frantically
trying to find a home for the beautiful black and gold rooster who appeared one day in
their yard in the busy Boston suburb of Hyde Park, Massachusetts. It all started Christmas
a year ago when Harold, an avid wild bird lover and feeder, saw an unusually large bird
running through his yard. He dashed into the house as fast as his trim 80-plus body could
take him to find the wild bird identification book. Who was this dashing stranger?
Keeping his distance, the new bird hung around Harold's yard, enjoying the
cracked corn and other goodies Harold put out every day. Harold soon discovered him
roosting at night in the fork of a tall White Pine. He and Virginia named their mystery
All went well until March, when Harvey began crowing. When neighborhood
boys started harassing Harvey, Harold called the animal shelter, which set a humane trap
but only succeeded in trapping the Mercer's cat. More calls led Harold to United Poultry
Concerns, who called me. My wife Mary and I keep a small sanctuary in Western
Massachusetts. We were already pretty full, but. . . .
I drove down to Hyde Park on Saturday afternoon at dusk. Harold, Virginia, and
their grandson Chris had a ladder ready out back, near the tall pine. Lo, there was Harvey
on his perch, 35 feet above us, but he wasn't resting. He was wide awake in the light of
the back porch floodlight. Chris positioned the extension ladder under Harvey and started
to move it up. Real careful. When the ladder touched the tree, Harvey could stand this no
more, and flew off into the night. We finally found him in the front yard. I grabbed my
net, and in a quick swoop, had him safe. As we held him snug, talking quietly and petting
him, the terrified rooster began to calm down. I brought him to Harold and Virginia, and
for the first time, they petted and kissed Harvey. Then he was off to his new home.
After a few showdowns between Harvey and the other roosters, Harvey took up
with our largest and most gentle rooster, Peeps, and with Sky Pilot, our male pigeon.
He's taken to hanging out with our new wild female turkey Mrs. Turk as well. In short,
Harvey is doing just fine. He's a great guy. He's part of our gang.
Matt and Mary Kelly are longstanding members of United Poultry Concerns. In 1998,
they adopted Lily, a hen rescued from a game show machine in New York City's
Chinatown Arcade. The story of this rescue, "She's Free," appears in the Spring/Summer
1998 issue of PoultryPress, Volume 8, No. 2, online at www.UPC-online.org. We thank
Harold Mercer for being Harvey's guardian angel and Matt Kelly for sharing this