Can chickens find their way back home?? lost in a cornfeild?

Bocktobery 10

10 Years
Oct 8, 2010
My 3 year old DEAF Buff Orpington disappeared about three days ago. She is not a very bright chicken. She is very slow to move too as she is very heavy bodied. She is also missing a great number of feathers and can't fly very well at all and lately I've been concerned as she looked like she was starting to get ill. Since she is disabled (deaf) I've always been worried about her, thinking that if any of my chickens would 'get it', it would be her as she would be very easy to get to first.

I figured this is what happened a few days ago when she did not show up to roost that evening. We searched for her but found no evidence of any fowl play- no feathers, blood, guts... nothing. I searched as much as I could that evening as the sunlight faded and then again in the morning- that time, searching even the edges of the fields (we have 55 acres) and also in the woods surrounding the fields. There are some fox dens up there- figured that maybe some evidence would be there but there was not. I should note that I have not ever had a problem with predators yet since I got my first flock in 2010. I do know we have all the predators around as I've seen them or their scat or footprints in mud. The only other notable thing that was odd was at 3pm earlier that day I did hear my rooster growl very deep and loud at something, deeper and louder than I ever heard him growl before, but its not so unusual to hear my rooster growl many times a day. Also, none of my flock seemed nervous, neither that day or night or the next morning and usually if something is around they are nervous and won't come out of the coop so exuberantly, but rather with caution.

Anyway, so ...tonight, while putting the chickens away for the night, I heard what sounded like a chicken far off in our corn field towards my neighbors (they do not have chickens). The corn plants are extremely tall and would be hard to navigate through as a person- I myself could easily get lost! I'm wondering if I am just hearing things (maybe grief and wishful thinking?) but even my rooster reacted to it like crazy when I heard it and I heard it twice- it was faint and far in the distance and kind of sounded like her too. (Since she is deaf, she has a funny sounding voice.)

I went to go look and stopped and listened near to the spot I thought I heard it but heard nothing at that time. I decided that maybe it was just the echo of my other chickens bouncing off the plants and hillside as they 'got ready for bed', but I really hope that it was her. It really did sound like a chicken far off in the corn field.

My question is.... Can chickens find their way back home just like how homing pigeons can or is it more orientation by sound or light or sight with chickens? I know that some birds have the ability to come home when even miles away- are chickens like that too? Since she is deaf, I don't think she would be able to orient herself if she was in the field. I know that sometimes if something spooks them enough they will run into the field. I'm wondering if this happened to her as once a few years ago my pullets ran into the soy to hide when something swooped down at them.

I'm trying not to get my hopes up high- the sun already went down here tonight so there is nothing more I could do this evening. I'd be so overjoyed to find her again. I've been bawling my eyes out since she disappeared. I don't even know how I could help her navigate her way back home if she was lost. Does anyone have any comments or suggestions? Could she starve out there? What could I possibly do?
I hope your little girl comes back home. It is so sad to when we just don't know what happened to them. Don't give up hope though, I can see how she could get lost in a corn field. I've done it before myself when I was a kid.
I had a chicken lost after a predator attack. One dead two missing. One of the missing showed up at a neighbors six weeks later. Thinner but alive. Unfortunately I lost her again while trying to integrate her back into the flock after three weeks. My bad...I didn't have her attached pen covered as I would only put her by the other chickens a few hours a day and a dog came by when I was in the house and got her. That was devastating because I am sure it was the same dogs that got them before. But anyway there is hope she will make her way home or to some other place of safety.
Thank you for both of your responses... it means a lot to me.

There's been no sign of her... and in fact, I'm pretty sure I've seen the culprit today- It was noon, I was at the kitchen sink washing up and looked out the window into the yard and saw this reddish animal quietly, eerily-smoothly sneaking around, sniffing the ground just at the edge of the cornfield.... yep, a red fox. Could hardly see it myself, but it disappeared fast... and so did I, running outside to go put my flock in for the day. (they are not happy at all now and a few I could not catch.)

I can't stand this battle.

I'd really hope that she would come home and that she is alive and is just lost, but I think I have to face facts. Still, I don't know what I heard- I guess it was just the echo of one of my other hens.. Even if it was her, she still could have been taken by any number of the predators around here. I imagine also that a chicken is a 'sitting duck' on the floor of a cornfield at night. I wish I wasn't so 'chicken' myself last night, not to have ventured in around the area I heard it. Then at least I would have known for certain-then again, who knows. She would have been difficult to see on the field's floor as her coloring matches the dirt- a sandy yellow.

Thanks again for your responses milola and Imachicklver2-

I'm sorry for your loss too milola- I think I'd have a similar tale if she did come back- I know she was getting ill and loosing weight and feathers, so I might have just lost her later anyway. I had been trying all I knew to help her but nothing was working. Still, it hurts. I would not have wanted her life to end in such a way- especially since I feel that she knew she was the most vulnerable. The thought just leaves a sick feeling in my stomach. I wish I could have protected her- she was quite tame. I just hope it was quick.
Hi there,

I stumbled across your story recently and was really touched by it. I was searching for answers after a young hen of mine--one of the sweetest of course--went missing, and I wasn't sure if she'd been taken by a hawk or was just disoriented in the dark. Just like you, I was bawling my eyes out thinking of my own lost chicken, and I just wanted you to know how sorry I am that you had to go through this, even though I know it was a few years ago now. I was extraordinarily lucky, and my three-month-old survived the night outside of the coop and reappeared the next morning. Seeing her alive after I'd thought she was dead was one of the closest things to a miracle I've experienced! Your deaf Buff Orpington was lucky to have you. My heart breaks for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you many small chicken miracles whenever you find yourself in scary situations in the future.
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