Rooster fights, the real ones, are about posturing, not about injury. I have so much respect and gratitude for pattrice jones and the Eastern Shore Sanctuary and Education Center, because they’re the first and still one of only a few who will rehabilitate former fighting roosters.
The roosters who are “bred” and “trained” for fighting are no different, in essence, than Vick’s dogs in that the fighting is inherent in their personality only up to a point. The majority is abuse, pure and simple. And a bit of the twisted minds of the people who pay to watch that kind of carnage.
The reason that pattrice can rehabilitate the roosters isn’t through magic, but through a lot of patience to get past the abuse, to get them back to the real personality of the roosters.
It isn’t that roosters don’t fight among themselves. The same is true with dogs. The “fighting” is just more a matter of puffed up chests and flying feathers (or loud barking) than it is blood and tears.
One weekend this past winter at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, I was able to capture some pictures that tell a great story of what a rooster fight is really like.
Here we have Leopold on the left and Hermes on the right. Leopold has had years of experience in these “fights”, but doesn’t seem to be (in my opinion) at the top when it comes to king of the mountain, rooster style. He can definitely hold his own, though. Hermes is still fairly young…
You can see three things from the following picture:
- They move fast
- They don’t necessarily touch at all
- My camera is set on Aperture Priority
To explain what is going on, they start in the classic position, chests low, head close to the ground, neck feathers ruffled up. They’ll often move their heads up and down a little, maybe moving a foot forward as if feigning a charge, and they’ll mirror each other as they do this.
Suddenly they’ll fly at each other. They’re fast, and it is dramatic. It looks like they butt chests, but I’m not sure they even get that close. There’s a great flapping of wings, and some feathers usually fly at this point. (Merely from the flapping of wings, from what I can tell!)
This repeats several times.
You can see that Hermes isn’t really in the best strategic position, as he has the wall against his back. Leopold has more confidence, as well as strategy, and that is almost the entire game when it comes to these contests. Hermes sticks it out. What’s the point of youth, if not for brazenness?
And Cornelius comes to watch. This is telling. I remember Terry or Dave telling me once, long ago, that neither Leopold nor Cornelius alone have what it takes to be top rooster, but that when they work together, they’re almost unbeatable. So when Cornelius comes to hover on the sidelines, you know that Hermes is quickly going to be defeated.
And sure enough, as soon as Cornelius joines in, Hermes is routed.
You can see what his “defeat” is like. Much fast running. No blood. No injuries.
This is your typical rooster fight, when roosters are just themselves, with no abuse to twist their natural tendencies into something much darker. Once Hermes backed down and ran, Leopold and Cornelius were satisfied to watch him go. That’s all they wanted. To prove that when it came to a game of chicken, they’d win.