Chickens, etc, taught me something new - ever seen this?


11 Years
Aug 31, 2008
I always make a trip after work and before dark down to the coop to put the birds away, but tonight I wasn't able to do that. It was dark, had been raining, and the shed door had blown closed. All but a few of the birds were stuck outside with make-do roosts - sitting on top of the park bench and the fence and a roofed pen, sitting in the doorway and on the steps and just hunkering down.

I expected as soon as I opened the shed door so they could go home, they would, but this is the weird part: they were like zombies and had no interest in going inside! I couldn't even reasonably prod them into moving towards the shed. Only the geese willingly went in, come to think of it.

My conclusion, maybe a bit rash, is that if the chickens/turkeys/guineas haven't "roosted" in the usual place before dark, they are going to stay in place for the night, wherever that is. That's a total surprise. Is this just normal? Everyone is inside a 8' chain link fence, but they've never been outside their shed overnight before and I hope nothing takes advantage of them for being out tonight.
Was it dark? They can't see anything in the dark, and that's why they act like zombies. I know exactly what you're talking about. I would NOT let them roost where they are, though, because if they spend a night in a new roost, then that's where they'll want to roost every night. Plus, they may not be safe.

Chickens are extremely vulnerable at night for the reasons you saw.

We used to laugh at my friend's pastured chickens, because when he moved their eggmobile/roosts, even if it was 50 feet would get dark and they wouldn't be able to find it... even though it was the only shelter in the vicinity, and they would all just hunker down next to clumps of grass. Those grown hens are so silly sometimes.
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They should be ok as long as you dont have wild animales that could harm them, If it was dark out they prob couldnt see and thats why the didnt go in, I notice when I go into my coop when its dark noone moves the just honk at me.... Chickens dont see well at all in the dark, I would bet thats why !!!!! Unless they have alien friends that they wanted to see tonight
Yes, totally dark. First time, I visited by car head lights and second time with a flashlight.

I'll be with about the same quality light if I go back - maybe I'll have to do that to see how many I can make go home by carrying them. They're also wet from the rain. Thanks for pointing out the urgency of not letting them sit there all night.
Unfortunately, I've had to round up 'lost' chickens on one or two occasions in the dark with a flashlight, so I know how (not) fun it is. Especially wet chickens. Wear old clothes, and maybe you could shine your headlights to make it easier for them to see where to go.
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Well, that was pretty easy once I committed to doing it. Took the car again, a battery lantern that turned out to be dead, and a flashlight. They were peaceable about being caught, for the most part, and carried into the shed one by one. Gives me some appreciation for how large some of these pullets are getting! And how sweet and almost trusting/vulnerable they were having to be moved.

Five guineas and a female turkey are still on top of the fence. Most likely, they'll be alright though maybe this will spoil them about being out at night.

Much easier making their home available before dusk. Thanks for the quick answers & education. I feel better for having tried to do something though maybe no predators would've come who could come in -- and yet, they're almost defenseless in the dark, poor birdies.
Yeah, I agree with you on both those points -- you get a sense of why you need to protect them as they are soooo vulnerable under night conditions. And since we don't handle them all that often during the day, you can get a sense of their weight/health a bit by picking them up.

Glad to hear it wasn't too bad.

I'm guessing if your guineas and turkeys found a high place to roost, they'd love to stay outside (if you don't have bad predators).

Yeah for you for going the extra mile to help your birds...
Same thing happened with our 2 RIR's. My dh and I went out for the evening, so our 30 yr old daughter said she'd shut them in for us. Well she went down just after dark, the gate to their barn door had blownshut and they were roosting on a bench by our BBQ grill. She has no experience at all so she petted them, talked to them, tried to brib them with food. Of course they couldn't budge. So she picked them up and carried them through the barn to their roost. Then she thought she could just show them their roost and they would just sit. Long story short, with love and patience she finally got them to sit on their roost. We came home and boy did she have a story to tell us....then I told her they can't see in the dark...oh!!! she said. It blew her away. I thought it was pretty funny because I had told her not to wait till after dark, but didn't think to tell her why. I'm glad you got yours in their coop, I'm sure it couldn't have been easy with the rain and dark. Good Job, I' a newbie and learning also...good luck.

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