Online Chicken-Keeping Classes with Home to Roost

Home to Roost is now offering online chicken-keeping programs for libraries, conservatories, schools, and other organizations interested in providing meaningful online content for their stay-at-home patrons.

Everyone’s getting chickens, it seems, and Home to Roost offers several presentations on this decade’s “it” bird. These online programs would help your organization connect with patrons who currently have birds and those who are thinking about raising backyard chickens in the current shelter-in-place environment.

I’d recommend beginning with the Chicken-Keeping Class (2 hrs), followed by Chicken Coop Basics (2 hrs). You can also host a simple Q&A session with Home to Roost! (I also offer all of my classes in-person and design custom programs for kids or to suit your needs!)

Home to Roost’s classes are based on personal experience, rigorous research, best practices, interactions with avian veterinarians, as well as more than 10 years of helping folks in Chicago raise chickens – and of course a great love for poultry. I have presented at public libraries, Morton Arboretum, Chicago Botanic Garden, Garfield Park Conservatory, and Coop Camp, appeared at various festivals, and created a chicken-keeping program for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

If your organization is interested in hosting a class, you can download a list of my class offerings or connect with me via my contact page. Let me know if you’d like a class that is not on the list! I’m always happy to accommodate special requests!

Sign the Petition for Chickens in Park Ridge, IL

A group of people interested in bringing chickens started this petition on April 13 in order to get the conversation started with city officials in support of keeping backyard hens in Park Ridge, IL. If you live in Park Ridge, please sign and share this petition!



FREE Basic Chicken Q&A Zoom meeting with Home to Roost!

Bring your questions about chickens to a FREE Basic Chicken Q&A Zoom meeting with Home to Roost!
First come, first served!
I usually have a number of classes in the spring – basic chicken care, coop building, etc., but due to COVID-19, I’m going to be offering some classes online in the near future.
Topic: Basic Chicken Q&A with Home to Roost
Time: Apr 16, 2020 07:00-07:40 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Space: 100 participants
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 716 3026 2022
Password: 7R1sf7

Dr. Peter Sakas, Beloved Avian Veterinarian, Passes Due to COVID-19 Complications

It is with a very heavy heart that I report that my favorite avian vet, mentor, and supporter, Dr. Peter Sakas, owner of Niles Animal Hospital, has died from complications of COVID-19.

His quiet demeanor and self-deprecating humor masked a deep-seated compassion and a heart of gold, as well as a kind and generous soul. He cared for many animals that would not otherwise have had a chance and treated gravely injured wildlife, including a red-tailed hawk I picked up.

He was always willing to work a patient into his schedule, respond to an email, or tell an awful joke. He cared deeply for his patients and was always willing to go the extra mile. He performed an oviductectomy on my favorite parakeet Regina Coeli, giving me a bit more time with her; he was there when I had to make difficult decisions about life-or-death matters, always giving me time to think things through and supporting me in my decisions about those life-or-death matters, which is always important for the owner of a companion animal, no matter how small.

His vast knowledge of animal care was hidden behind a quiet humility and a great sense of humor. We were necropsying a chicken one day, and he said, “Do you know what that is?” pointing to an organ. I said “No, I don’t.” And he responded, “Neither do I!” [It was the spleen. Of course he knew this!]

On another occasion I brought in my male Japanese quail Tweedledee and Tweedledum because they had foam in their droppings. I was concerned about parasites. The computers were down that day, and Dr. Sakas did a number of tests – CBC, fecal, gram stain – and nothing turned up, even after examining the foam under a microscope. He sent me home with antibiotics. Once I got home, I did a little online research and was quite amused to find that nature had duped him. As it turns out, male Japanese quail have a foam gland right above the cloaca. The foam aids in sperm motility. We had a good laugh over that one.

His generosity added greatly to my current body of knowledge as a chicken consultant: He let me shadow him in clinic; he reviewed my necropsy photos and notes; he cared for many of my own birds; he believed in me, supported me, respected me.

He was generous, kind, patient, soft-spoken, and so knowledgeable. The animals of Chicagoland are poorer for this loss. My condolences to his family and the staff of Niles Animal Hospital.

Dr. Sakas, you will be greatly, unimaginably missed.

Requiescat in pace.

If you have a favorite memory of Dr. Sakas, please leave it in the comments below.


The following is a letter from the family:


Dear Niles Animal Hospital family,
It is with completely shattered hearts that we give you the news that Dr. Peter Sakas, our father, has passed away unexpectedly. Though it was unexpected, he was comfortable in his final moments.
There are no words to describe how broken we feel, and you undoubtedly feel the same. Our father was truly one of a kind. His sister recently shared the story with us of why he decided to become a veterinarian. Believe it or not, our dad grew up wanting to become an architect and would frequently be found doodling pictures of his future buildings (a trait he held onto his entire life…he would constantly doodle when he was on the phone). He worked as a caddie over the summers and one day while walking home, he found a small injured bird on the sidewalk. He brought the bird home and was completely beside himself that he was unable to help it. That moment was the impetus for his decision to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. As people get older, they tend to become jaded, but our father’s big heart and compassion only seemed to grow since finding that small bird. His love and empathy knew no bounds. He truly believed all life is precious and that animals have souls. He practiced medicine in a manner that was testament to those beliefs. He frequently took on cases that others considered helpless and he would often double-book himself or come in to the clinic after hours to care for the animals, both pets and wildlife, he so dearly loved.
Our father would often tell us that he’s never worked a day in his life because he loved his job so much. He took great pride in being the voice for patients who could not speak and tell him their problems, but we also know that the people he could speak to (you, his clients) meant the world to him. Our entire lives have been filled with stories of his clients and their animal companions he has had the privilege of treating. He would tell us about the wonderful people who tolerated his “dad joke” style of humor and who even traveled from different states to come see him (We’ll never forget hearing about the turkey who came in a corvette from Wisconsin). So although we have not met many of you in person, you have felt like a part of our family for as long as we can remember and we can’t thank you enough for making him feel so loved. He told us that he was never going to retire, and we’re comforted to know he got to uphold that promise and do what he loved right up until the very end.
The hole that this has left in our hearts will never fully heal, but our father’s spirit lives on in the entire staff at Niles Animal Hospital. Our father said that he was an “excellent judge of character,” and we know firsthand that the team he has created is top-notch and will continue to carry out his legacy and way of practicing. We hope you can continue to trust Niles Animal Hospital with the care of your beloved companions.
Given the extremely unfortunate circumstances, we are unable to have a proper memorial service at this time. There will be a service for immediate family members, but we plan to have another service some time in the future where we can all come together and properly celebrate our father.
In the meantime, please feel free to share your favorite memory, story, or cheesy “dad joke” you have of our father on his personal Facebook page or the Niles Animal Hospital Facebook page. We will personally be reading each one and it would truly mean the world to know how our father has impacted your lives since we are unable to share these stories in person at this time.
If you would like to make a different kind of contribution, we would direct you to make a contribution to the University of Illinois Companion Animal Memorial Fund in our father’s name.
We cannot thank you enough for everything you all have done for our father over the years, and we hope to get the chance to properly celebrate our father with you all in the future. He was too big of a character to be contained by a physical body, and we look forward to hearing the stories you have to share and how he will continue to live on in all of our hearts.
Courtney, Christopher, and the entire Sakas family


Proposed Chicago Livestock Ordinance on Live from the Heartland on Nov. 9

Home to Roost will be discussing the proposed Chicago livestock ordinance on WLUW 88.7 FM at 9 am Saturday morning, 11/9, on Live from the Heartland.

Listen in to the conversation on the radio or online!

Live from the Heartland broadcasts from Loyola’s WLUW 88.7 FM every Saturday morning from 9-10 am with co-hosts Michael James, Katy Hogan & Thom Clark. For over 25 years, we’ve created marvelous conversation on all things Rogers Park & beyond, looking at community news, politics & culture. Streaming from with clips posted every week on our Facebook Page and or  

Sign-On to Oppose the Chicago Livestock Ordinance!

Chicago Livestock Action Alert (2)

A committee for the Chicago City Council has drafted an ordinance that would make it very expensive and difficult to raise a small flock of chickens, ducks, or other animals in your yard. There is no need to change Chicago’s current laws about flocks and livestock.

I’ve helped numerous families with small flocks of chickens, installed a chicken-keeping program in the Cook County Jail, and worked with other projects for schools, day cares, and affordable-housing programs. I also use my animals multiple times a year for educational purposes because the current laws are fair and make sense. We do not need to change our current legislation. 

Please take a minute to sign on to this statement and let the city council know that we don’t need to change the poultry laws in the city.

English: Sign-On to Oppose the Chicago Livestock Ordinance! →

español: Regístrese para oponerse a la Ordenanza de Ganado de Chicago →


Joint Statement Opposing Proposed Chicago Livestock Ordinance and Call to Action

If you’re a Chicago resident, please read the following statement and take action using the template and call script below. You can also download this information: Livestock-Joint-Statement-9.26.19-1.

Joint Statement Opposing Proposed Chicago Livestock Ordinance
September 26, 2019

Right now, Aldermen Lopez (15th ward) and Napolitano (41st ward) are pushing an ordinance to severely limit livestock in your backyards and neighborhood farms. This ordinance – introduced without meaningful community input – hinders the ability of Chicago residents and urban farmers to grow and raise their own food through fees, fines, and unnecessary burdensome regulations. This ordinance also puts animal welfare organizations at risk for caring for abused animals, if they shelter roosters or exceed the limit on livestock. Together as urban agriculture and animal welfare advocates, we oppose the Chicago Livestock Ordinance, O2019-7576. Join us in contacting your Alderman, as well as Ald. Lopez and Ald. Napolitano, to oppose this ordinance.

Current regulations protect Chicagoans’ right to raise backyard livestock and practice urban farming that is humane to animals and respectful of neighbors. Existing City of Chicago ordinances already address the potential public health, nuisance, and animal welfare concerns related to raising small farmed animals. The ordinance will create unnecessary regulation by banning roosters, capping the total number of fowl at six and other livestock at two, only allowing single-family or two-flat residences to keep livestock, and levying fines up to $500 per day for permit violations – all without
consideration for lot size.

If enacted, this ordinance will threaten the ability of many of our city’s residents and urban farmers to raise their own food and put them at financial risk with costly fees and fines. I n addition, the ordinance infringes on the rights of residents by unduly limiting what animals they can keep. These animals are critical community members, offer hands-on ways to learn about ecology and food (in homes, schools and daycare centers), and provide organic pest control and fertilizer, companionship, and other environmental benefits.

We have worked together for years to create a supportive system for Chicago’s thriving home and community gardens, urban farms, and livestock keeping. These activities are critical to healthy food access, ecological health, and workforce development in our city.

Community education and networking is often more effective than blanket regulation to prevent and solve potential problems. We look forward to collaborating with the Lightfoot administration on our major priorities, including equitable land access, affordable water access, ecological resilience, stronger animal protections, and clear business licensing for urban farms.

Please contact your Alderman today to oppose the proposed ordinance O2019-7576.

Please use the letter below as a template and tell your Alderman to VOTE NO on these proposed changes and to support community-developed urban agriculture and animal welfare solutions.

Advocates for Urban Agriculture
Chicago Animal Save
Chicago Food Policy Action Council
Chicago Roo Crew
Chicagoland Chicken Enthusiasts
Home to Roost
Illinois Environmental Council
Urban Growers Collective

As of 9/26/19
TAKE ACTION: Tell Your Alderman to Oppose Ordinance O2019-7576

Help us track the citywide opposition by filling out this brief form after your interaction


Call Script:
Hello, my name is __________, and I am a resident of the ____ ward. I’m calling to ask that you oppose ordinance O2019-7576, introduced by Aldermen Lopez and Napolitano. This ordinance, introduced without meaningful community input, burdens residents who keep roosters, chickens and other livestock with fees, fines, and unnecessary regulations. I urge my alderman to vote no on this ordinance and to support community-led urban agriculture and animal welfare solutions. Thank you very much.

Email Script:
Dear Alderman _________,
My name is __________ and I am a resident of the ____ ward. I am writing to ask that you oppose ordinance O2019-7576, introduced by Aldermen Lopez and Napolitano. This ordinance, introduced without meaningful community input, hinders the ability of Chicago residents and urban farmers to grow and raise their own food through fees, fines, and unnecessary burdensome regulations. This ordinance also puts animal welfare organizations at risk for caring for abused animals, if they shelter roosters or exceed the limit on livestock.
Current regulations protect Chicagoans’ right to raise backyard livestock and practice urban farming that is humane to animals and respectful of neighbors. Existing City of Chicago ordinances already address the potential public health, nuisance, and animal welfare concerns related to raising small farm animals.
There are better ways to address concerns around the treatment of these animals, as well as the communities that keep them. I respectfully request that you oppose the proposed legislation and meet with members of the animal rescue and urban farming community to consider alternatives to this regulation.


TAKE ACTION: Contact Aldermen Lopez and Napolitano to Express Your Opposition
Alderman Raymond A. Lopez (15th)
Ward Office: (773) 823-1539
City Hall: (312) 744-4321
Alderman Anthony V. Napolitano (41st)
Ward Office: (773) 631-2241
City Hall: (312) 744-3942

Additional Ordinance Details:
The proposed ordinance (O2019-7576) would amend Municipal Code Titles 4 and 7 to regulate backyard livestock, roosters and urban farms. It outlines the following:
● Require those possessing fowl or livestock to obtain a “livestock permit” from the Commissioner of Health for $25 per animal, which must be renewed annually.
● Applies only to single-family home or two-flats. All other residential properties would be BANNED from obtaining a permit.
● Cap the total number of fowl at 6 and other livestock at 2, regardless of the size of the livestock and of the property where they would reside.
● Require anyone applying for a permit to contact all residents within 500 feet of their property line to inform them of the proposed keeping of fowl or livestock. If 51% or more of those contacted object, the City must not issue the permit,
regardless of reason for objections.
● Levy fines of up to $500 for each animal every day until the animals were removed. This would apply to anyone in violation of this ordinance, even those operating within the law before its adoption.
● Ban roosters within the city, even though existing nuisance ordinances are more than adequate in addressing any sound or nuisance complaint a rooster may cause.
● Require those selling any products from livestock or fowl (i.e. eggs, milk, butter, etc.) to obtain an “Urban Farm” business license. Currently, no clear urban farm business license exists within the City of Chicago.
● Require the Commissioner of Health to immediately notify the appropriate alderman when an urban farm license is requested in his or her ward.

New Chicago Ordinance Proposed to Affect Chickens: What to Do

For anyone asking what to do about the new proposed ordinance going before the Committee on License and Consumer Protection:

READ the proposed ordinance and Alderman Lopez’s summary post:


Contact your alderman, whether on the License committee or not. To find your ward and alderman, use this link.

  • Encourage them to go on the Coop Tour this weekend!
  • Explain your reaction to the proposed ordinance as a responsible chicken/livestock keeper.
  • Inform them about backyard chickens and other livestock, and how you manage yours to prevent problems they may have heard about.
  • Invite them to meet you and your animals – assuming you have a good example to show them – if not, work on that! So important!

We encourage people to build relationships with their Alder and Ward staff ahead of urgent issues – so they know you and can go to you for more info. Be among the people they are glad are in the ward making it a better place to live.


Windy City Coop Tour! Sept 21-22, 2019

Chicagoland Chicken Enthusiasts Presents

The 9th Annual Windy City Coop Tour 

Chicago, IL Sept. 9, 2019  The Windy City Coop Tour is back for its 9th year showcasing backyard poultry, eco-yards and urban livestock across Chicago! During this self-guided tour, hosts open their yards to visitors and share their experience keeping backyard livestock in an urban setting. The Windy City Coop Tour provides access to local examples of the broader nation-wide movement toward sustainable yards.

Cost: Free and open to the public!

When: Saturday September 21 10:00AM-1:00PM and 1:00-4:00PM
            Sunday September 22 10:00AM-1:00PM and 1:00-4:00PM.
Where: Windy City Coop Tour 2019 Map

How: To choose your itinerary, see: 2019 Tour Site Info for Visitors

 What can Visitors do on the Tour?

  • Visit any of 22 diverse locations spanning 17 of Chicago’s 50 wards. 
  • Learn about gardening, composting, permaculture, and rainwater harvesting as part of sustainable urban lifestyles. 
  • Bust common myths and misconceptions about urban livestock.
  • See a coop made from a backyard playset in Norwood Park.
  • Feed some goats at GlennArt Farm.
  • Learn about beekeeping in Edgewater.
  • Find out what a “chicken tractor” is in Douglas Park.
  • Discover hugelkultur in Bronzeville.


Why Hosts are Part of the Windy City Coop Tour

“We want to foster and support a healthy ecosystem in our backyard.”  – The Silvestros, Bronzeville

“We have a lot of great information to share! We are proud of our homemade set-up that has grown each year and hope to share our knowledge with others.” – Michael Marchi, Old Irving Park

“We look forward to hosting the Tour because we first went on the Tour before we even owned a home, and it’s fun to show others what can be done!” – The Vallartas, Galewood

“We are dedicated to the restoration of community on the West Side of Chicago. Having chickens and goats serves as an attraction and an education base.” -Carolyn Ioder, Austin

We love sharing our experience of a life of having chickens in the city. Our chickens are more popular in our neighborhood than we are!” – Chris Koster, East Douglas Park

Many sites are wheelchair accessible, and Tour hosts speak one or more of four languages. For details, visit

The Windy City Coop Tour is organized by Chicagoland Chicken Enthusiasts, a network of local poultry keepers and their allies moderated by Angelic Organics Learning Center. This press release is published on the web as 2019 Windy City Coop Tour PR.

Chickens at BarrieFest, Sept. 7

Come out for BarrieFest! Lots of fun, family-friendly activities, including Home to Roost and chickens!

  • Bounce house & obstacle course for all ages
  • Climbing wall
  • Legacy Sports multi-sport madness
  • Food from Carnivore and Knockout Cafe
  • Live music
  • Fire truck visit
  • Oak Park Library
  • Organization & business fair
  • Bike registration by Oak Park Police

Stop by between 12 and 5, Barrie Park at 1011 S Lombard Ave in Oak Park!