New Roosting Habit


14 Years
Sep 19, 2009
Central NC
My Barred Rock has recently (6 days ago) started a new, and undesirable, habit of attempting to roost in a tree at night. It's the same tree every night, just outside their fence. Our flock is 7 guineas and three chickens, they've lived together in relative harmony for almost two months now. I saw relatively because the chickens don't really seem socialize with the guineas much. I can't say that I blame them, the guineas are terribly loud and obnoxious.

During the day the chickens are free to come and go from their fenced area, all three would return to their house around dusk and were on their perches before the guineas. Last weekend however, this little chicken decided she was going to roost in this tree (we didn't realize that's where she was the first night, we thought something had run off with her) every night. The other two go back to the house, and she gets up in her tree about 12 feet off the ground.

I've tried telling her that it's just not safe to sleep up in trees at night, regardless of what she might hear the wild birds saying during the day. She doesn't listen. Every night we have to scoop (we use a very long stick, press it under her belly so she'll step onto it, then lower her down) her out of the tree and put her in the coop with the rest of the flock. We're not going to let her roost in the tree, there are far too many creatures out here who would love a tasty chicken treat.

Any guess what would make her want to roost in the tree alone at night all of a sudden? Other than scooping her out of the tree every night, any suggestions on how we can get her to go back into the house on her own? There are plenty of roosts available in the house, there's a whole unused side of the house if she doesn't want to roost with the guineas.

The only thought I have is a) confine her to coop/run for a few days to 'retrain' her to sleep 'at home', make sure roost is not overcrowded, etc or b)make it impossible for her to get up in the tree (I don't know it that can be done, maybe some teporary netting or something to prevent her from getting up there...or c) continue what you are doing and hope she'll give up soon. Must be frustrating to get her down every night....
Do you think she does it because of the guineas??)
Hmmmm......I had a similar problem with a chicken several months ago. We had to get her out of a tree a couple of nights but she finally gave it up. It was my own fault though. I was walking around with her one day and sat her in the tree. She thought "hey, I like it up here!" so that very night she tried to spend the night there.

My 12 chickens live and roost with my 11 guinneas and do fine together. The guinneas are loud but settle down when it gets dark. I always tell my DH "listen, the guinneas told another joke" cause it sounds like they are laughing on the roost. They are such funny birds.

Hope your bird decides the roost is a much better place to spend the night.
I had one do that. She has always been the troublemaker/escapee hence named Houdini.
Wing clipping seems to have solved the roosting problem. Now I'm always pleasently surprised to find her in the house with the others.

Google or search on here for directions/pictures if you don't know how to do it - it's really easy. I just caught her down out of a tree one night, put a towel on her head to keep it dark and did it under the dim porch light so that she was still too much of a sleepy-head to fight me.
The silly little chicken knows how to go back into the house/pen, she goes in and out during the day. It's just at night that she doesn't like it. The house should have plenty of space, it's 4'x8'x6' with perches on each end. The guineas eventually settle down, but do make noise well past dark. The guineas are definitely funny birds, just very loud. (Actually, I got them because the guineas I pass on my way to work every day crack me up. I read they're great bug control, mine can't figure out how to eat anything that isn't grasshoppers and any green leaves they can get their beaks on.) Maybe confining her would work though.

Her wings are already clipped. I've got to assume she's walking up this tree, I highly doubt she's able to fly that high with clipped wings. It's a Sourwood tree that grows diagonally, very easy to hop up at the bottom and walk on up. I've considered just cutting the tree down, Sourwoods tend to go hollow and die anyway, but at least with this tree we know where she is at night. It's actually becoming a little bit of a joke at night "Time to go poke Chicken Little out of her tree."
Okay, so now it's two chickens that are trying to roost in the tree. They're quite close, pal around during the day. After we scooped them out of the tree and put them in the house, and chased the guineas into the house, these two chickens kept trying to get out of the house. My husband has been the one letting them out of their house in the morning lately, he said that the guineas are mean to the chickens. They chase the chickens out of the house and peck at them in the morning in their rush to get to the feeder.

Any suggestions, other than building a new house for the guineas? Honestly, we had planned for the guineas to free-range all the time, I've just been scared to let them stay out at night...afraid they'll get eaten. The woman I got them from locally said that hers free-range all the time and they do fine. Mine just don't really seem bright enough to make it on their own. Any idea why the guineas would suddenly start being mean to the chickens?
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