DEAR JOAN: Several times over the last month we have seen a once-beautiful white-feathered rooster traveling around with a flock of turkeys.
We feel very concerned about this poor guy. His bedraggled tail feathers show that his present way of life is not working out well for him.
We would like to help, but we are not sure how to go about it. If you or any of your readers have any ideas on how to help, we would greatly appreciate it.
DEAR VALERIE: Although the appearance of the rooster is giving you some concern, he must be receiving some advantages of hanging out with turkeys or he wouldn’t stay with them.
Turkeys and chickens can be fine friends, and as they haven’t driven the rooster out of the flock, the turkeys must be OK with it, too.
The problem with trying to rescue the rooster from the turkey cult is the questions of what to do with him once you’ve reprogrammed him. Most communities that allow folks to keep chickens draw the line on roosters. Their crowing disturbs the peace and quiet, and roosters are not necessary for the production of eggs.
Unless you have a safe haven for the rooster, I wouldn’t try to capture him. But if you do have a plan, then you might try luring him into a humane trap, using a hen as bait. It won’t be easy, but if you think you can give him a better life, then it will be worth the effort.
DEAR JOAN: A few weeks ago I was bike riding in the Berkeley hills when I saw what looked to be a large dog in the road walking toward me.
I’ve seen many coyotes and foxes on my rides, but this looked much larger than any of those sightings. Before I could get my camera out it was walking away from me. Any chance this could be a wolf or just a large coyote?
Dave Milliken, Bay Area
DEAR DAVE: I’m fairly certain it was a large coyote. The photo you sent didn’t provide the best view as it shows the hindquarters rather than the head, ears and face — all of which have important distinguishing characteristics.
While the coyote and wolf can look very similar, the coyote’s face is narrow and pointed with a small nose pad; the wolf’s face is described as broad and blocky with a large nose pad. The ears on a coyote are tall and pointed; the wolf’s ears are short and rounded.
Perhaps the biggest difference is in weight. Coyotes weigh 15 to 50 pounds, while wolves are 70 to 150.
California killed and drove out its entire wolf population a century ago, and it was only in the past decade that a wolf has been seen in the state, up near the Oregon border. Two years ago, the Shasta pack — a mated pair and five pups — was found in eastern Siskiyou County. Earlier this year, another pack — the Lassen pack — was discovered in Lassen County.
There is no indication any of the wolves have traveled this far south, making it highly unlikely we’d see one in this area, especially not in a place that is near so much development.
Wildlife officials and others are excited about the natural return of wolves. They say the animals pose no threat to humans, although farmers and ranchers are concerned about the safety of their grazing stock.
Why is a rooster hanging around with a flock of turkeys?