FOREST HILLS — What the cluck?
A plucky chicken that munches on bagels and blocks traffic while he crosses the road to lounge in a private park has taken up residence near the Forest Hills Long Island Rail Road station, becoming the source of much amusement for locals.
Residents say that the hen, which lives in the scaffolding above 71st Avenue between Austin and Dartmouth streets, first flocked to the area in early spring, much to the surprise of everyone.
"The first time I saw him, I said to myself: 'Is that a rooster?'" said Judy Van Aalten, 63, who works in a realty office on 71st Avenue.
According to locals, the bird fowls up traffic in the mornings and evenings when it swoops down from the scaffolding to 71st Avenue and walks across Dartmouth Street to a private park.
"He creates havoc when he crosses," said Andrea Moynihan, 42, a Forest Hills resident who works for a financial services firm. "Cars have to stop for him because he usually stands in the center of the street."
The chicken's gender has been a source of debate, with some residents calling it a rooster and others insisting that it's an English Hen. Scott Silver, director of the Queens Zoo, said the chicken was a hen but couldn't determine its breed.
Regardless of its pedigree, the chicken has been given a name.
"When I saw him, the first thing I thought of was a banjo," Moynihan, who sees the chicken every morning on her way to the train station, said. "So I named him 'Huckleberry.' It sounded southern to me."
Moynihan, a regular at Dirty Pierre's on 71st Avenue, passed the name along to others, and the moniker stuck among the patrons at the restaurant.
The bird spends its days in the park, pecking away at grass and running away from anyone who comes near it. When it's not near the park, residents said it survives on bagels and bread that people toss to her.
Donna Sorrentino, 57, who was leaving the park with her 2-year-old grandson, Justin, said a bowl of water has been left out for the bird.
"It's really been living here," Sorrentino said.
Residents say that, aside from traffic jams, the chicken doesn't cause any real problems, and it's become a regular feathered member of the neighborhood.
"It's become the talk of the gardens," said Van Aalten, whose office has created "chicken crossing" signs for the office.
"He's become one of those things where I just walk by and say: 'Hi Huckleberry,'" Moynihan said.