BALDWINSVILLE — Cindy Burt-Kinney is terrified of birds, so she would be an unlikely candidate to rescue a rooster. But when someone abandoned a rooster and a flock of chickens near her home in March 2019, the Lysander resident did everything she could help them.
Sadly, the hens quickly fell victim to coyotes and other predators, but the rooster persevered. Now, Burt-Kinney has published a book based on the experience. The proceeds of “Cogburn’s Tale: Straight from the Rooster’s Beak” will benefit Purpose Farm.
For about 10 months, Burt-Kinney left food and water for the wary rooster, whom she named Cogburn. Despite her efforts, Cogburn stubbornly refused to come indoors. As the year wore on and the winter approached, Burt-Kinney noticed he was starting to look a little worse for the wear.
“It was real rainy and wet and cold that year,” she recalled. “I went to feed him one day and noticed he was missing a bunch of feathers on his back and had some wounds.”
She enlisted multiple friends to try to catch the bird, but Cogburn remained on the run. He outran a marathon runner, sidestepped a net launcher and dodged Burt-Kinney’s salmon fishing net.
One day, Burt-Kinney found Cogburn practically frozen to a branch he was using for shelter. She was at her limit.
“I can’t keep doing this with you not letting us catch you. It’s tearing me apart,” she told the rooster.
Burt-Kinney’s last resort was the “chicken whisperer,” a friend’s boyfriend who had a flock of his own. The friends managed to trap the rooster with a blanket on Jan. 19, 2020.
“He squawked bloody murder,” Burt-Kinney recalled.
With Cogburn safely at his new home, Burt-Kinney slipped soundly for the first time in months.
“I didn’t realize how it had affected me until he was safe,” she said.
Burt-Kinney decided to write about her experience with Cogburn to raise awareness about the problem of abandoning animals.
“People need to know that domestic animals are not disposable,” Burt-Kinney said.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, shelters take in about 6.3 million cats and dogs each year. Fortune magazine reported in July 2021 that shelters across the country were seeing a surge of people surrendering their “pandemic pets.”
While those reports refer to dogs and cats, the problem goes beyond that. An article on OneGreenPlanet.org discussed the cruelty of giving rabbits, baby chicks and ducklings as Easter gifts.
“Too many rabbits, chickens, and ducks, while initially desired as Easter decorations or entertainment, are cast away once interest wanes or animal care becomes too burdensome,” the article read.
Burt-Kinney echoed this assessment.
“Everything’s cute when it’s brand-new and fuzzy, and then they grow up and they’re working,” she said.
Purpose Farm, also in Lysander, is still in the process of rebuilding after a devastating barn fire in February 2021. Burt-Kinney wanted the proceeds of her book to support Purpose Farm, which connects children in crisis with rescued animals through hands-on mentoring sessions.
After the book was published in December 2021, Burt-Kinney brought Purpose Farm owner Sandra Seabrook a copy.
“She just threw her arms around me and squeezed me and said, ‘It’s real!”‘ Burt-Kinney said.
“Cogburn’s Tale” is available on Amazon or from Cindy Burt-Kinney directly. Message her on Facebook to learn more.