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Stroll through the area around Bushwick and Flushing Avenue on any given day, and your ears might pick up on the indistinct crowing of a rooster. Perhaps you investigate further, or brush it off as a hallucinatory side effect of New York hearing damage; but take a look around and you just might run into Rocky the Rooster.
Rocky belongs to longtime Bushwick resident Angel Luis Seijo, who moved to Brooklyn from Puerto Rico at the age of five. Now 52, Seijo, a former city maintenance man with a short, greying beard and a healthy tan, spends his days kicking back on his favored Bushwick side-street, fixing cars, arguing with Union Local 237 for better labour rights, and occasionally taking on a variety of animals. Adopting Rocky isn’t Seijo’s first rodeo when it comes to strange, unusual — occasionally illegal — pets. Seijo’s track record includes chickens, snakes, and at one point, a pig.
Seijo adopted Rocky four months ago after hearing that a friend of a friend was looking to get rid of a baby rooster that was cooped up in his basement.
“Let me keep him, I can give him life,” Seijo told the acquaintance.
The pair have been largely inseparable ever since. According to Seijo, the eight-month-old bird is doing great in his new digs.
“He knows when to cross the street and he knows all my friends. When he sees it’s sundown, he goes inside his cage. I don’t have to chase him,” Seijo said.
One of Seijo’s favorite things to do is yell “sing Rocky, sing,” a command the rooster invariably obeys, much to the amusement of friends and passersby. Rocky spends his nights tucked into the laundry room of a nearby building and lives off a diet of corn, scraps, and snacks people bring him.
While Seijo hasn’t received any complaints from the neighbors or building residents, he is aware that he can’t keep a rooster in the basement forever. Housing chickens on personal property in New York City is legal, but the rule doesn’t apply to roosters and other large or predatory birds. Violation of Article 161 of the city’s health code carries a fine of $200-$2000 and near certainty of losing your coveted, exotic pet to city officials.
Due to city regulations, Seijo plans on taking Rocky to his brother’s place in Puerto Rico this December so the bird can live out the rest of its days in a pastoral paradise.
Until then, Seijo wants to find Rocky a summer fling, possibly a baby mama. Seijo wants a girl with a nice name for his bird.
“Maybe Sally, Selina, something easy and something cute,” Seijo said.
After the emotional peacock incident at Newark a couple of weeks ago, we can only hope that — when the time comes for Rocky to retire down south— the airline of choice will be more rooster-accommodating.