Sunday, June 5, 2011
A vicious peck at my hand startled me when I reached out to do a routine check under the white hen one recent morning. The drowsy, placid bird in the nest had become a fierce, protective one. I realized that her eggs must be ready to hatch. As I left her alone, I could hear her soft, purring reassurances to the chicks, still in their shells, but I was too far away to hear their tiny answering peeps.
The next day, I crept out with a bowl of crushed grain, a dish a water shallow enough that a chick couldn't drown in it, and a camera. I saw five chicks of assorted colours, but the hen didn't like having me close. She urged her babies all underneath her, and refused to let me see them again, though I stayed for quite a while, waiting. The next morning, there were seven chicks, and she had begun to take them a few feet away from the nest, teaching them to scratch for grain. I tossed some out for them and watched with great pleasure as the little ones carefully imitated her.
Chicks are such fun. Charlie is enraptured; he spent all day lying close by the pen. On schedule, I heard the raucous squawks of raven chicks somewhere nearby, and felt glad that Charlie is taking such an interest in our vulnerable little ones.
I'll get more pictures once the hen relaxes a bit and stops hiding her babies as soon as she sees me.