Compassion at Work

Harvey, the Boston Rooster

Sky Pilot, Harvey, and Peeps
Photo by Matt Kelly

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 bird Harvey.

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 We thank Harold Mercer for being Harvey's guardian angel and Matt Kelly for sharing this heartwarming story.