NEWBURYPORT — The Rhode Island Red hen that became a social media celebrity over the weekend has been removed from The Tannery Marketplace.
The unnamed chicken had been making a home of The Tannery for the past week but was taken to a farm by animal control officer Scott Purdie Tuesday afternoon.
"She couldn't sustain herself on what she was eating at The Tannery, blueberry muffins and things like that," Purdie said. "So, she was taken to an undisclosed farm where she can be cared for."
Real estate agency Hall & Moskow owns and operates The Tannery and office manager Susanne Wieder said the hen had been on the property for "about a week."
"One of our tenants came in and asked us if we knew the chicken was there and could we take care of her and make sure she doesn't get hurt?" Wieder said.
According to Wieder, the unnamed hen had been a very good neighbor.
"She is adorable, the kids love her," Wieder said. "The kids throw breadcrumbs at her, which we are not really fond of. But, you know, the chickens have to eat. She knows (the Black Duck Market & Deli) is a prime place for blueberry muffins, biscuits, crackers."
But convenience store muffins and crackers are not the best diet for a hen, according to Purdie, who captured the bird Tuesday afternoon.
"I checked with a couple of chicken owners in the area," Purdie said. "There is one guy about a half a mile away and another at the top of Federal Street but they weren't missing a chicken. So she's at a farm where the owner knows chickens and can care for her. She's with other chickens now and is not by herself."
Purdie said residents are allowed to keep chickens in Newburyport, but not roosters. He said he'd be happy to give the hen back to her owner if that person does come looking for her.
"I am surprised that her owner hasn't said, 'where is my chicken?'" Purdie said. "But if he can identify her, he can have her back."
Although the hen's Tannery residency only lasted a few days, she had become a bit of a social media celebrity, popping up on city-centric social media pages like the Nice People of Newburyport and Newburyport Commons Facebook pages.
Wieder said she believes the hen was most likely "an escapee" from a local yard.
"Chickens startle easily and when they startle, they scram," Wieder said. "I think wherever she comes from, something happened, either thunder and lightning or a dog barking or a kid screaming that made her scram and maybe she can't get back home. I am hoping that the Facebook people find her owner at some point."
Michelle Stevens works at the Black Duck and has a theory about how the hen got to The Tannery.
"There is a guy who has chickens and, I guess, when he takes off from his yard, the chicken jumps in his truck," Stevens said. "He doesn't know that it's there and wherever he stops, the chicken jumps out."