I know what you mean. I raise my chicks with the light on all the time until they're about 6 - 8 wks, the first time I turn the light off they freak out. So now what I do is turn the light off when the sun's still out, letting sunlight dim as the sun goes down. The gradual lights out is easier on them, no more freaking out & I don't feel bad for them.
They also got freaked out by a large moth.I go running out in my pj to see whats going on and i can't find anything wrong.And there it was a very large moth flying around the light.I'm worried they wouldn't see danger if its dark.
How old are they? What breed?
Chickens are not very "brave", anything flying over heard freaks them out, it's instinctive (flying predator). If they're cooped, they should be safe & sleep. Mine are housed at night, free range during the day although spend a good time in my patio lounging. They got the routine down, will go to their house area about half hour before I close them in.
I've used Happy Hens freeze dried mealworms to train and entice them to do my bidding, the shake of the container or even sight will have them running. I've recently learned they also love rolled oats as a treat, cheaper too. Scrambled eggs another good treat when they molt, extra protein. They are easy to spoil...
In January they will be two years old.My babies are cochins,silver lace wing,light brahma,buff cornish.My roo is a brahma.They do go to bed at night in the coop with no problems.they are not true free range.They have a run,the coop that has a partial screen porch area,and a very large fenced garden area.They haven't eating all the grass and weeds completly gone in the garden area ever.So i figure it has plenty of room for them.Only problem i ever had was a hawk.Everyone went in to lock down.All they had was the run and coop area.I hate hawks.
Hate hawks cover your run with chicken wire...hang CDs from fishing line...get crow decoys..owl decoys...they don't like shiny prismatic things...pin tins hung to clang...flashing lights..hang gourd bird houses..I think the purple Martin chases hawks..get Guinea fowll