Happy Peeps

May 8, 2011

Chicken Olympics

I never thought that chickens played games, until one day in the not too distant past, I went down to share some leftover lettuce leaves with "the girls" (and boys). This started a cacophony of chirping and screeching, punctuated by some early quacking sounds from the ducks, who ate most of the leaves before the chickens could get at them. But one of the "teenagers" as I like to think of them at this stage, grabbed a bit of red leaf lettuce and started running around with it in his beak, trying to find a quiet place where he could be alone. But since they all live in one big box, and the only items in the box are the waterer, feeder, and a couple of broken limbs for perches, there aren't a lot of hiding places, and all his running around accomplished was to attract the attention of every other chicken. All of the sudden, it was like a game of "You're It" and they were chasing this guy over hill and dale (or, perch and feeder), and when they realized that he actually had something he was keeping from them, they started to work together, coming at him from several directions at once, forcing him into a beak-to-beak confrontation, whereby the competitor would snatch the lettuce from him and then the chase would begin again in earnest. This went on for a good 15 minutes at least. Watching them, one could imagine they were playing solely for the sake of the game, because not once did any of them just stop in a corner of the box, and attempt to swallow or break up the lettuce for consumption.
  It finally got a little confusing for them when the leaf broke in half and all of the sudden two of them were running around with the goods, which caused total mayhem, as they would run after one, then the other, depending on who was closest to them at the time. At one point I witnessed the lettuce-carrier run UNDER one of the meat-birds (yes, we have some of those too). He ducked and ran right between her legs! The meat birds are heavy and slow moving, and this one had a look of total shock on her face. I SO wish I had my camera on me at the time to videotape the nonsense, because this is one of those reasons I think chicken keepers enjoy these birds: pure entertainment value.

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