Chickens are a Marvel of Instinct

Charlcie

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 9, 2013
37
0
22
Yesterday, when checking on my 4 week-old pullets, a lone wasp entered their brooding area. I'm sure he was drawn to the birds' water container.

One of the Easter Eggers spied the insect straight away and in a flash, while the wasp hovered just above the trough, snatched it with amazing speed. I was immediately concerned that the chick would get stung with potentially dire consequences, but being allergic to wasp and bee stings myself, I just watched helplessly.

The chick ran about the brooder to keep its prize away from her 17 other "roomies" and periodically would drop the wasp and jab at it frantically, snatching it up again to avoid losing her prize to one of several very interested pullets. She repeated this run, drop, jab, and flee scenario until the wasp ceased to struggle, whereupon she promptly gobbled up her prize.

I was just facinated by this process and how ingrained is the instinct that allowed this chick to recognize the wasp as a potential food source, but also to employ a technique that helped her to avoid injury to herself. Many "uninitiated" consider chickens near the bottom when it comes to the power of their "bird brain", but the intelligence of chickens is frequently underestimated.

Dr. Joy Mench, a professor of animal science, argues that chickens are highly social animals that can remember as many as 100 other chickens. They communicate using dozens of unique vocalizations. In a recent study conducted by Andy Lamey of Monash University in Australia, researchers who studied chickens conclude that, contrary to earlier studies, chickens do possess “primitive self-consciousness” as identified in human newborns and higher primates. In this report, Lamey demonstrates how chickens respond to tests where they must learn the details of the tests first, hold them in memory for varying periods of time, and react on their memory of these learned behaviors by choosing an “optimal” reward, which requires practicing self control, i.e., “the ability to resist immediate gratification for a later benefit.”

Of course to those members of the "choir" out there, you all know there's a lot more depth to these fowl than many give credit. Just another reason why I think keeping chickens is such a facinating hobby.
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chirpingcricket

Songster
8 Years
Apr 6, 2011
1,930
89
216
Fairhope, AL
Yesterday, when checking on my 4 week-old pullets, a lone wasp entered their brooding area. I'm sure he was drawn to the birds' water container.

One of the Easter Eggers spied the insect straight away and in a flash, while the wasp hovered just above the trough, snatched it with amazing speed. I was immediately concerned that the chick would get stung with potentially dire consequences, but being allergic to wasp and bee stings myself, I just watched helplessly.

The chick ran about the brooder to keep its prize away from her 17 other "roomies" and periodically would drop the wasp and jab at it frantically, snatching it up again to avoid losing her prize to one of several very interested pullets. She repeated this run, drop, jab, and flee scenario until the wasp ceased to struggle, whereupon she promptly gobbled up her prize.

I was just facinated by this process and how ingrained is the instinct that allowed this chick to recognize the wasp as a potential food source, but also to employ a technique that helped her to avoid injury to herself. Many "uninitiated" consider chickens near the bottom when it comes to the power of their "bird brain", but the intelligence of chickens is frequently underestimated.

Dr. Joy Mench, a professor of animal science, argues that chickens are highly social animals that can remember as many as 100 other chickens. They communicate using dozens of unique vocalizations. In a recent study conducted by Andy Lamey of Monash University in Australia, researchers who studied chickens conclude that, contrary to earlier studies, chickens do possess “primitive self-consciousness” as identified in human newborns and higher primates. In this report, Lamey demonstrates how chickens respond to tests where they must learn the details of the tests first, hold them in memory for varying periods of time, and react on their memory of these learned behaviors by choosing an “optimal” reward, which requires practicing self control, i.e., “the ability to resist immediate gratification for a later benefit.”

Of course to those members of the "choir" out there, you all know there's a lot more depth to these fowl than many give credit. Just another reason why I think keeping chickens is such a facinating hobby.
smile.png
I've always felt that chickens were a study in human psychology. The more you watch them, the better able you are to understand some human being behaviour(s). And, greetings from the Gulf Coast, glad you are here at BYC!
 

proxieme

In the Brooder
7 Years
Mar 28, 2012
44
1
31
I observed something similar when my girls first encountered a wolf spider.

They were still very young - 2 months or so - and I'd put them out in the mobile run we'd constructed for them.
Then a wolf spider as big as my hand started to scurry through, and they morphed from feathery little goofballs into finely honed velociraptors. They stalked towards it, heads bobbing to and fro, and then struck and continued to strike until it stopped moving, at which time they dug in.
 
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Charlcie

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 9, 2013
37
0
22
Thanks chirpingcricket.
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I think studying animals in general can be quite a revelation to us all.
 

Charlcie

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 9, 2013
37
0
22
Yes, it seems the Buff Orpingtons (or just Orpingtons in general) tend to be much less aggressive than most other breeds. I have one cute little Buff Orp in my group of pullets and she does tend to hang back and let the other chicks take the lead. That aside, I think she is the prettiest little pullet in the bunch. I just love that golden creamy color!
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