12 March 1999

chirpy sings the blues after poisonous meal

WHEN Chirpy the cockerels appetite got the better of him down on the farm it was very nearly his last supper. The eagle-eyed cock came close to falling off his perch when he spotted what he thought was a free lunch but turned out to be a portion of rat poison instead.

Farmer John Bevan from Webbys Farm near Exeter, Devon, said that he realised something was wrong with Chirpy when the birds droppings turned electric blue, and the old bird himself looked drastically off colour. The charmed cockerel managed to survive his ordeal and was eventually given the all-clear by a vet much to the Bevan familys delight.

Chirpy is an important member of the household and is almost constantly by the side of 10-year-old Daniel Bevan who reared him from a chick when the rest of the brood was carried off by a flock of crows. Said Daniel, "He follows me everywhere because he thinks he is one of the family". Chirpy even sits on the gate-post every day waiting for Daniel to come home from school. Since his run-in with the rat poison the cockerel has survived two fox attacks. "He is a cockerel with attitude," says Mr Bevan. "He thinks he rules the roost over the rest of the farm animals".

Richard Austin