I’ve been watching something here that I have never seen before. A pullet called Knock who belongs to a group I call Tribe 3, decided that the nest box in my house is where she wanted to lay her eggs. How she knew the nest box was there and why she chose it in preference to the nest boxes her tribe usually use is a bit of a mystery. I didn’t see her journey to the nest box the first visit. One day I looked and there she was. The nest box in my house is most definitely the territory of another group I call Tribe 1. There are four groups here currently. I have watched other hens form other tribes attempt to lay eggs in Tribe 1‘s territory. What usually happens is one of the senior hens drives the interloper out. The interloper then calls for her rooster, if he isn’t already there, and they go and look for another site. This may involve traveling across other tribes territories and this means there is always potential for fighting between the escorting rooster and the roosters of the tribes territory they cross. Often an unescorted hen is ‘fair game’ in the eyes of roosters from other tribes, particularly in the eyes of any cockerels without their own hens in the territory the hen crosses. I’ve watched this hen Knock make her way from her own tribes territory to the nest box in my house a few times now and I’ve been fascinated by this journey which may involve moving across an acre and half of land. What happens is Knock sets off with her rooster Notch who escorts her to the edge of Tribe 1s territory or to where Tribe 1 are on route. When Notch and Knock approach Tribe 1, Cillin, the senior rooster of Tribe 1 and often Treacle, the tribes cockerel move away from their hens and ‘meet’ Notch and Knock from Tribe 3. While both tribe roosters make ‘that’s close enough’ warning calls and frantically peck at the ground and make feint combat bursts towards each other, they don’t fight. Cillin makes a couple of herding shuffles around Knock and then escorts her away from Notch her rooster. I have never seen him make any attempt to mate with Knock; he just escorts her past his hens and often all the way to the nest box. In effect the two roosters who under normal circumstances don’t get on cooperate in escorting Knock to the nest. There is a changeover in escort duties. Treacle, the cockerel of Tribe 1 who does not have his own hens doesn’t molest Knock either. In fact he is often the one who hangs around while Knock lays her egg while Cillin returns to his hens. Normally the hens of one tribe will not tolerate a hen from another tribe close to their rooster and won’t tolerate a hen from another tribe making nests in their coops and territory. There are ‘gray’ areas outside but coops are defended. The hens in Tribe 1 haven’t driven Knock away. In fact, one hen from Tribe 1 who also lays is the nest box in y house has stood faily patiently below this nest box waiting her turn. Once Knock has laid her egg she gives the escort call and both Cillin and Notch respond. Cillin will come to the door of my house and escort Knock to the edge of Tribe 1‘s territory or to wherever Notch is waiting. Notch then escorts Knock back to the rest of his tribe and often mates with Knock. Neither Cillin or Treacle have made any attempt to mate with Knock. It makes sense for Notch to escort Knock because he is protecting his genes. It doesn’t make any sense for Cillin to take up the escort duties if he has no genetic investment in the hen and isn’t actively looking to increase the number of hens in his tribe. On the face of it this is cooperation between Tribes/flocks/groups with the interests of the species foremost. That has some serious implications. Given this has happened a number of times it implies there could be an agreed arrangement between the two roosters and what I find even more interesting is Treacle, who doesn’t have his own hens isn’t making any attempts to mate with Knock. Anyway, here are some pictures of the exchange taking place. Notch and Knock in the background approaching Tribe 1. Tribe 1 moving away from Notch and Knock to keep close to Cillin, their rooster. Notch leaves Knock at this point and returns to his hens. Cillin is already in the house and Treacle follows as rearguard. Treacle herding Knock, but not showing any intention of mating. Cillin herding Knock but not showing any intention of mating. Cillin below the nest box semi squatting and making encouraging nesting sounds. Knock in the nest box getting settled.