What do Animals Know?
of my hens were squabbling in the foyer this morning. White Hen#1, who is sitting on 3 eggs in a
nest in the foyer, was upset that, Suzette, the black French hen, was coming to look at
the eggs, and maybe try to sit on them and lay another egg there. (Chickens like to lay their eggs where there
are already other eggs, especially if someone is sitting on them. That way they
pass on their genes with little or no effort.) And chickens don’t care whose eggs they sit
on. They will even sit on duck eggs and
hatch them. (Then maybe the hen starts
wondering why her babies are always going in the water, and not drowning!) The hen who spends 3 weeks sitting on the
eggs is the de facto mother of the babies, the one who takes care of them,
teaches them how and what to eat, and protects them. The biological mothers take no interest in
them. After about 6 weeks, the chicks are big enough
to take care of themselves
are well known for their dominance hierarchy, they invented the idea. That’s why it’s called the pecking
order. (And humans seem to have copied
this idea.) Suzette outranks the 2 white
hens because she joined the flock before they were even hatched. So WH#1 can’t make Suzette go away from her
nest. It’s amazing that this WH always
comes to me for help, because she knows I outrank all the hens! She comes up the stairs to the door to the
house, squawking loudly for me to come and get that other hen away. She’s the only one who seems to have
developed this personal relationship with me.
interesting thing is that Suzette, the black hen who came to look at the eggs,
is actually the biological mother of the 3 eggs WH is sitting on. Maybe she was coming to check on her babies! Does she know they are hers? Who knows what animals know!
have 2 roosters, Inky, who is a pure black “Gallo Nero”, and Goldy, who is
black and white and shines like gold in the sun. It will be interesting to see how the chicks
turn out. Goldy is a very lucky
rooster. He was bought by a Chinese
family, who have a store called China Town across the railroad tracks from us,
for their dinner! But he escaped and
made his way over the tracks, ending up in our yard and even going into one of
our coops! I happened to see him in
there and closed the door. Later the
Chinese family came by, asking if we had seen the rooster. They even had a picture of him on a cell
phone. Sante thought he was too
beautiful to eat and offered to trade one of ours for Goldy.
had too many roosters “troppi galli”, because the last couple of hatchings had
been all males, until we finally had one in the spring with 5 females. Alba, an Italian farmwife friend of ours,
said the gender of the chicks depends on the phase of the moon, and the
temperature – higher temperature means females.
I haven’t checked this out on Google yet.
people kill the excess roosters and eat them, but we are unable to do
this. We got Alba to kill a couple of
them for us and gave her one. The
roosters had a very happy life, running around the yard, scratching up weeds
and insects , and chasing hens all day, and that’s the important thing.
is an interesting story about how White Hen #1 and 2 were hatched.