BERLIN – Berlin. Known for its historic buildings, small town charm and now — its wandering chicken.
In recent weeks, residents and visitors have taken to social media to share sightings of a wandering white hen throughout the downtown area. Whether she’s peering into the toy store or soaking up the sun outside the health department, Althea’s antics are entertaining locals and tourists alike.
“I’m thinking about getting shirts made,” said Erin Bilenki, who’s taken over care of Althea since finding her outside her shop one morning. “She’s a sensation.”
Bilenki, who operates Health Freedom, located behind the municipal parking lot, adjacent to Artisans Green, said the hen, white with black trim on her neck, showed up on Artisans Green a little over a month ago. She shared the hen’s photo on social media and asked around regarding any missing chickens. When no one claimed the vagabond bird, Bilenki bought her a small coop so she’d no longer need to shelter under the store overnight.
She christened the chicken Althea—after the Grateful Dead song—and has enjoyed the hen’s antics ever since. While she’s not exactly friendly, Althea now comes running, eager to be fed, when she sees Bilenki. She’s also started laying eggs in her new coop. Lacking chicken companions, she’s befriended a squirrel and rabbit in the neighborhood.
“It’s really cute,” Bilenki said.
And while Bilenki feeds the hen, she’s been adopted by the entire downtown. Shoppers stop to take her picture when they see her in the parking lot while local merchants catch her admiring her reflection in their glass doors. Ivy Wells, the town’s economic and community development director, posted “Chicken Crossing” signs to alert motorists to her presence.
“Althea is ‘the’ definition of a free range chicken,” Wells said.
Olga Kozhevnikova of World of Toys, snapped a picture of Althea outside her door last week and joked that it was her first customer of the day. Facebook fans loved it.
“Smart chick, it’s a great store,” one chimed in.
“Now we know why the chicken crossed the road,” wrote another.
The health department followed suit, sharing an image of Althea outside its Berlin dental clinic.
Wells said the hen now had quite the following.
“Althea has become somewhat of a celebrity here,” she said. “The business owners have embraced her as a local. Just another thing that makes Berlin unique.”