Dori and I pulled up on the Pacific Highway by a carpark in Berowra. It was Friday night and the place was busy and lit up by shops and street lights. This was Rescue Heidi attempt 3. Heidi was an isa brown hen who had been stray in this busy car park for 2 weeks. She had suffered through burning hot days and thunder storms, nesting in a bag of cement. A kind lady had been feeding her and had tried to catch her several times without luck. Poor Heidi's sisters had been killed on the road and she was the only survivor.
After a failed daytime rescue we were back at night hoping that Heidi would be quiet and roosting. As we got out of the car to get our big net, carrier and treats we saw a whirlwind of brown feathers as Heidi was run into the road by a boy of about 15 on a push scooter who had purposefully scooted into her. The Pacific Highway was busy with cars and trucks and for a horrible moment we thought that we were too late. The boy laughed and scooted off. Dori and I yelled after him to have some compassion.
"It's just a chicken!" He yelled back at us as he went around the corner. His friends stood laughing awkwardly. We tried to herd Heidi back down into the carpark away from the dangerous road. Couples who were walking out of restaurants found us hilarious, but we knew this was a matter of life or death.
Despite having a sore leg Heidi was fast and petrified of the noise and bright lights around her as well as us two scary humans following her. If only she knew we were trying to help her.
"You're looking in the wrong place you idiots!" The boy was back, carrying a case of beer and shouting down at us. It seemed he was right as Heidi had ducked around the back of the carpark and back up on the busy pavement. We ran up shouting at the boy to leave her alone.
"Leave her alone you moron!" shouted Dori. Okay so this isn't exactly the way to speak to a young boy, but we were getting really angry and we were scared he would try to drive her into the road again.
Poor Heidi flapped frantically amongst groups of people dodging this way and that. She was heading for a busy intersection. We were desperately trying to catch her, but she was too fast and frantic. Suddenly the boy put down his case of beer and grabbed her. He held over her wings and pinned her to the ground. He had caught her!
"Please keep her there for a moment!" I begged him, afraid of what he was going to do next. I thought he may hurt her or kill her to get back at us. I dropped the net and ran over. He bent down and picked her up by her neck. It was probably only a second where she hung this way, but it felt like a minute.
"Not by her neck!" I yelled, but Dori was there scooping her to safety. The boy hadn't been trying to hurt her that time, he just had no idea how to hold a chicken.
"Thank you!" I said "Thank you so much!" The boy was smiling now and his friends were slapping him on the back.
"See, I'm not a moron...I saved a chicken."
"You did a good thing." Dori and I told him. I asked his name and he told me it was Josh. He said he never really meant to hurt Heidi. He looked so proud of himself I could have hugged him.
We took Heidi back to the carrier in the car and all the couples wanted to see her and laugh at the situation. Poor Heidi was terrified and for a horrifying moment I thought she would escape again as we placed her in the carrier and she made a final mad dash for the door, banging against it.
Now a couple of months later Heidi is settled in our garden as part of our permanent flock of 5 hens. She is so much happier being part of a flock and her leg has healed
When we took her to the vets to have her leg checked the vet told us she had stress rings on her feathers that indicated she had been extremely stressed for at least 6 months. I hate to think of what she has been through.
Heidi is safe now and has a wonderful life with her ex-factory farmed friends to look forward to. If it wasn't for Josh I don't think she would be here now. Thank you Josh for having a change of heart and learning some compassion for chickens.