Bodacious birds by the side of the road beckon buyers

CAMANO ISLAND — Across the bridge from Stanwood, you’re tooling along bucolic Highway 532 in two-lane bliss when all of a sudden you see it.

A flock of giant roosters by the side of the road.

Not your casual cock-a-doodle-doo crowd. We’re talking big birds.

Roosters 3 feet tall, 6 feet tall … 12 feet tall!

What the cluck?

Supersized metal roosters in bright primary colors have rallied in front of The Spare Room Vintage Flea Market for about a dozen years.

“It put us on the map,” said Sue Ludwig, owner of the out-of-the-way market of 37 vendors with antiques, shabby chic and home goods. “People stop and take pictures of the roosters.”

How could you not brake for these bodacious bantams? Their beaky faces gawk with whimsey as cars go by.

The chickens are a long way from home, and came here for a better life.

“They come from a little dirt town in Mexico,” Ludwig said. “About 100 families make them out of recycled metal and old oil drums.”

Ludwig discovered the birds through a retailer, then went to Mexico to personally meet the rooster makers who supply shops worldwide. She also buys metal pigs, goats and red crabs.

“Our claim to fame is those roosters,” she said. “Our goats were on ‘The Ellen Show.’ Chickens are by far the hottest item. We have this great business card that local artist Bev Paulson made for us with a rooster.”

Three times a year, a truck delivers a shipment of more than 100 roosters to Ludwig’s store.

Forty bucks buys a small rooster. The popular 6-foot rooster is $325. A 12-to-15 footer is $1,400.

Sure, they’re adorable, in a cocky way. But where do you put these kooky birds?

You name it. Gardens. Foyers. Offices. Bars. Restaurants. Hen houses.

Those expressive faces are hard to resist, but shipping can cost more than the bird.

“I sent one to Germany,” Ludwig said.

Some buyers get creative. “A guy was going to his daughter’s house in Kansas. He cut it in half to fit it in his car and took it to his daughter and welded it back together,” she said.

One place these chickens don’t go is across the road.

Their ankles are cable-tied to sandbags should they get any ideas of fleeing or flying and to prevent them from being rooster-napped.

Want one?

“We just got a shipment,” Ludwig said. “We do sell out.”

Prefer to wear your rooster?

Fancy footwear designer Kobi Levi created a pair of 4-inch rooster heels, complete with dramatic red crest. But these cost as much as a 12-foot metal rooster.

Send What’s Up With That? suggestions to Andrea Brown at 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown. Read more What’s Up With That? at www.heraldnet.com/whatsup.

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