Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Chicken Story

A rooster crowing

The longer I live around animals, the more I'm convinced that people who believe that animals' abilities are limited just aren't looking carefully enough.  Recently, I've been hearing about scientists "discovering" that animals display empathy.  It only surprises me that they feel they need to prove it.

One winter, one of our hens started moulting late in the year.  There was a sudden, unexpected cold snap, and in the morning when we went out with a hot mash, we found her in a state of hypothermia.  We carefully put her down on the ground right in front of the warm food, but she didn't even seem to know it was there.

One of the roosters came and stood beside her and a hen stationed herself on the other side.  Both of them made little clucking sounds, the kind that mother hens use to call their chicks to food, while they deliberately pecked at the mash, obviously showing her that it was there.  Still, she made no move.  The healthy hen, to our amazement, then reached out with one wing and laid it over the back of her cold friend.

We picked up both hens and took them to the basement, where they lived until the moulting hen grew some feathers and the weather warmed up.

Beautiful rooster feathering

More gorgeous rooster feathers

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting reflection on bird behavior! What beautiful rooster feathers - they are like a natural piece of art!