So, big ol' hugs for the MHP. I picked up my chickens this morning and they spent the day in the nursery coop.
During the day, I left the pop door open. Just before dusk, I went out to close the door. After I came back in, I heard a single, loud, distressed chick. I went back out and opened the side door to find everyone else under the MHP and one chick was huddled in the corner chirping his little head off. As soon as I opened the door, he shut up and went into the cave with the rest. I closed the door and stood there for a minute, and sure enough, that chick starts chirping again, loud and distressed. I opened the door and he stopped, but again he was huddled in the corner. It occurred to me that where he was huddling, there is light that comes in around the closed door and he's huddling where there's the most light in the coop. I slid the pop door open a couple of inches and he shuts up. I came in the house and told my husband that I think the chick is freaked out being in the dark. Of course he pointed out that in a little while, it's going to be dark outside and if that's the case, the chick will start chirping again. . .and sure enough, once it got dark, I could hear him out there chirping his head off.
So I did a search here in the forums for "chick afraid of the dark" and I found numerous threads where people had the same problem but so much worse than mine. They have whole flocks that are terrified when the light goes out and pile up against the door, sometimes smothering fellow flock members in their panic and all of those chickens had started the first however many weeks of their lives with 24/7 light from the darned brooder lights. A couple of people said to tough it out and they'll soon calm down and get used to putting themselves to bed before dark and having a dark coop. And don't you know that by the time I finish reading about half a dozen threads, the loud chirping has stopped and everything is quiet outside. He must have chirped himself to sleep.
There is no way I'd go through the incessant noise having a light on 24/7, and then the raucous of having to wean them off it, so thank you all again for introducing me to the MHP.
My father-in-law, who is also planning to have some chickens soon, said something today about a brooding lamp when we were talking about the chicken coop. I told him heck no, I don't use a brooding lamp (like I'm some old hand at this and have been doing it for years). I use a heating pad. He's intrigued. We'll talk about it when he comes over to help finish the big coop. :)