A Bird in the Hand

During a fabled siege, the Turkish army under the command of Ulama-beg barricaded the people of Durdevac behind the walls of the Old Town without food or water with the intention of starving them into submission. According to legend, an old woman came up with the idea of shooting a rooster out of a cannon at the invading army to give the impression that the people of Durdevac had so much food they could outlast the army. In reality, the rooster, or picok, was the last bit of food in the compound. The ploy worked and Ulama-beg and his army retreated, believing that the people had a huge store of supplies and that starving them out would be a losing battle. Before he left, Ulama-beg got in one last shot at Durdevac by putting a curse on the townspeople, saying that from that day on they would be known as Picoki (roosters). Each year during the last week of June, the "Picoki" hold a big festival to commemorate their victory over the Turks. During this celebration, they re-enact the rooster shooting, though they purportedly now use a rubber chicken instead of a live rooster. In 2009, more than 30,000 people descended on urdevac for the annual rooster toss.


As the story goes, when Ivan Generalic was a kid, his father would tiptoe into his room when he was sleeping and stick a squawking rooster in his face to wake him up. As a result of this poultry attack, Ivan developed a love-hate relationship with the birds, which usually are portrayed in an unflattering light in his works.

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