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Long IslandSuffolk

Heckle the chicken returned to W. Islip store after abduction

Heckle the chicken has been returned to the West Islip shop, B.T.J.'s Jungle, from which the bird was stolen a week ago, after a motorist spotted the chicken on August Road. Videojournalist: James Carbone (Oct. 15, 2013)

Heckle isn't squawking.

His family has no idea what happened after Heckle, a black-feathered Silky chicken, was abducted Oct. 8 in front of his brother, Jeckle, from B.T.J.'s Jungle pet store in West Islip, only to be found by a jogger Monday, two miles away on the outskirts of a state park.

Reunited, Heckle and Jeckle groomed each other, and their owners Tuesday made sure the store mascots didn't have to scratch to survive.

"They're part of the family here," said Tom Niehoff, who owns the business with brothers Bill and Johnny. "We gave them some worms. They went to town eating those night crawlers."

The bird was found by retired school librarian Nancy Rebore Monday at Belmont Lake State Park in West Babylon. He was on the weedy side of August Road as she drove to the park and on the same patch as she was leaving after jogging.

"It got nervous when I really got in front of it," said Rebore, an animal lover from West Islip. "I talked to it quietly like 'cluck, cluck.' "

She went home for help from her husband, who had seen news of the foul play at the pet store.

A short time later, Rebore met Bill Niehoff at the park -- Heckle still in his spot -- and Niehoff netted the chicken.

The Niehoffs took in the Silkies this year from their former owner, who bought them somewhere around Easter.

The night of Heckle's abduction, store surveillance tapes show a burglar stealing turtles, koi and about $1,000 in merchandise just before 5:30 a.m.

With a pillowcase, the burglar -- still being sought by police -- tried catching the white-feathered Jeckle, who dodged him again and again in the chicken coop, Tom Niehoff said. So the burglar went for the calmer Heckle, he said.

After the birdnapping, Jeckle had crowed almost endlessly as he roamed the yard.

Tuesday, the pair dug worms at their fave place, under an old stagecoach.

"They're two peas in a pod," Niehoff said, "and it's pretty cute the way they behave with each other."

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