Chickens trying to communicate it seems

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by JohnnyHarkerHts, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. JohnnyHarkerHts

    JohnnyHarkerHts Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 26, 2012
    I've noticed that spontaneously or nearly so one chicken or another will start to do things that are intended to clearly send me a message to do something for them.

    The easiest example is about food.

    They have associated me with food of course, but what's interesting is what they do if I don't quickly feed them, and instead take some time to make sure everything is ok with them and in their hutch.

    What I've noticed when I do take longer to do this is they start to do a very specific thing.

    A hen will stop the clucking for a second to get my attention (there are only two so it's easy to notice when one shuts up) then when she see me look directly at her, she will peck the food tray one time, it's always one time, and then look back up at me to see if I respond.

    If I just keep looking, she'll do it again, sometimes a little louder as if to add emphasis (i'm not making this up).

    Of course, I figured this out a while ago that this is her way of saying either we are hungry or we are tired of the food we have give us something new.

    Once I'm done making sure things are ok, I'll go get them something, and they stop paying attention to me to eat whatever.

    I found this to be rather interesting, because it is clearly an association the chicken made itself. I never trained the chicken to do anything.

    While it seems common sense to us to associate the tray with food, what is truly a stretch in terms of animal intelligence is that the bird does too, and has used that ability to fashion a behavior to communicate with me.

    If I'm not mistaken that is a clear sign of abstract thinking only seen in very intelligent creatures. Until recently it was considered the type of thinking that made humans unique.

    Today we know that certain very intelligent crows show signs of this sort of thinking as well as Chimps, but I haven't heard of anyone noticing such behavior in chickens.

    This is only one example. There are a couple of more things my rooster will do that are along the same lines.

    The odd thing is they only do these things when the roosters and the hens are separated.

    When I keep them together neither the rooster nor the hens do these little things.

    So has anyone else noticed their chickens tailoring simple, but specific behaviors in order to send a message to us we can understand.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
  2. kellysmall87

    kellysmall87 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I believe you! Mine do this kind of stuff too. My two main females Henny and Rosie, the heads of the flock, come up to me and look directly at me and do a special kind of sound that I now recognise as a food cluck. Sometimes... I think they're training us rather than we having to train them!!! [​IMG]

    My food dishes are always full so they dont peck the dishes to tell me, but I bring out treats regularly so they do it to "ask" for more treats.
    Also, if I go out and say "Hello, Henny!" she will respond with a noise that she only uses when I say hello.... kind of a recognition that I am greeting her.

    Also, henny does a certain noise when I collect her egg... and will follow me being extremely interested in what I am doing with it.

    So yes, chickens are very intelligent! (Read my signature quote at the bottom of this post... about chickens intelligence.)

    Another thing is, Henny has a brilliant memory! At the beginning of this year, my whole flock (apart from henny) were killed by a fox. Henny was badly injured. It took her weeks to go out into the garden, and would only go out when I was out there. She would stay close to me, and would stare at the part of the garden where it happened. When she stared at the place where it happened and all her friends were killed (aww...) she would open her mouth and start panting. This is a sign of immense stress. she would only pant when looking at where it happened. She would stare at the spot almost like she was remembering and thinking.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
  3. JohnnyHarkerHts

    JohnnyHarkerHts Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 26, 2012
    Henny sounds like one of those chickens that really gets human behavior and uses it to talk with you.

    I've noticed not all my chickens seem to have that ability. Reggie my rooster does, though only away from the hens.

    One on one, it's almost like listening to a person who speaks no English react to things you do, and also try to talk to you.

    I walk out of the room, he raises up his hackles and clucks in a way that sounds the same in tone as a human saying "Where are you going!? Don't leave me hear with those wolves (my dogs)!!!"

    I guess the thing that is most shocking so to speak is the intelligence of a chicken is something we NEVER hear about.

    We'll hear about New Caledonian crows figuring out how to use tools, but chickens it seems are just too common to bother with, and that's too bad.

    From what I've gathered so far, chickens have many of the same talents that dogs have that made them the first domesticated animals.

    They have a social behavior that looks very much like our own.

    Now that I have chickens I can see that like humans that behavior is thoughtful, not just instinctual as we are left to assume about chickens.

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