Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How to teach a rooster not to crow at 4:00am

Chiclayo is a modern city by Peruvian standards. Burro and horse carts are no longer encountered on city streets, nor are sheep, cows or goats seen in yards or on roof tops (actually cows were never seen on roof tops for obvious reasons. Goats, being much lighter in weight were in the past observed on concrete roofs, but never on thatch roofs, as you can well understand). However the transition from farm to city is not yet complete. With the exception of the very center of the city, the sound of Peruvian songbirds – chickens, ducks and turkeys fills the air.

This is a rooster. He has a harem of about twenty hens all to himself on his roof-top kingdom. He is apparently a very happy rooster. The rooster expresses his happiness by crowing, starting with his greeting each new day at about 4:00am. The rooster does not care one iota that my bedroom is on the other side of the window lower-left. The rooster’s owner is also not concerned about the rooster/bedroom proximity. Two separate discussions with the man had resulted in his essentially saying, “This is Peru. If I want chickens on my roof I’ll have chickens on my roof.”

It is not an exaggeration to state that each and every morning at 4:00am when I opened my eyes in response to Mr. Barnyard Bigmouth’s serenade I fully expected to see him perched on the foot of my bed. His crowing is that loud. This was not a satisfactory situation, so to remedy the problem I did what any reasonable adult would do.

Rummaging through my odds-and-ends tool box I found what I was looking for… a piece of PVC tubing with a ½ inch inside diameter. This would serve well as a ‘blow gun barrel.’ Next I needed to find the ammunition. I considered purchasing ball-bearings at Sodimac but decided against it both because of the expense and the possibility of actually harming the rooster. After all, my intent was not to kill him; simply to modify his behavior via negative reinforcement. A solution for the ammunition was inadvertently stumbled upon during a walk in the neighborhood when Maribel spotted seed pods littering the ground at the base of a tree. The pods are oval, moderately hard, and best of all average about 7/16 inch in diameter. Brian and Maribel soon stopped scoffing when I demonstrated that at about 20 feet I could consistently hit a 4 inch target, accompanied by a satisfying ‘whap!’ sound.

This is Mr. Barnyard Bigmouth a split-second after being hit in the chest with a hard seed pod shot from our dining room window. I hit him on the second attempt…the first just missing his head, causing him to do that stupid head up and down dance that chickens always do when they sense something is not quite right. He didn’t stop crowing immediately after that first hit, but he no longer brazenly jumped up on the wall. I would first see his head nervously appear, looking to see if the coast was clear.

I am happy to report that after taking several direct hits Mr. Barnyard Bigmouth no longer crows from the wall. He continues to crow, but from behind the wall, which reduces the sound to an acceptable level. He still perches on the wall but he doesn’t crow while there. Sometimes when I see him sitting on the wall I open the dining room window and point the tube at him just to let him know that I’m on the alert because after all, chickens are so immature.



  1. Hello Tom! Hahahaha this story is great! I love the split second picture right after you have hit the rooster! Classic! Excellent story and I love the strategy. My name is Caleb, en Espanol me llamo es Maximo. I am in Peru traveling, surfing, and working on my Spanish. I just checked into your town of Chiclayo and was doing research on the nearby beaches of Pimentel, and of more importance to me, Puerto Eten. This is how I came upon your blog FYI. I am in town for only a few days and if you happen to read this message in time, I would love to meet, talk, and exchange some stories if you don’t mind. I checked into the Hostel Piramide Real right off the corner of Balta and Izaga. I can be reached at Thanks again for the tales and hope to hear from you. Ciao

  2. well they say you can take the boy out of the country -
    but you cant take the country out of the boy!
    Well played sir!
    Score one for the Gringos!


  3. This is absolutely the funniest thing I've read in a while. My in-laws live in Quinones/Satelite. They have a roof of Peruvian songbirds as well as cuy, rabbits, and Lord knows if she could get a cow up there, she would. I also like your main page picture of Paseo de las Musas. We had our wedding pictures taken there.