Obsessive Grooming + Clicking noise of beak


5 Years
Jan 2, 2015
Hi guys,

I wouldn't call this an emergency but my hen Joy is clicking her beak almost like she is nibbling at grit. Could it be symptom of any sort of disease or possibly depression? She is also obsessively grooming herself and I am not sure if this is because she possibly has mites or because she finished molting a couple weeks or less ago. Has anyone heard of chickens grooming obsessively because of depression? (almost like cats).

I ask the depression part because her only other coop-mate and best friend, Willow, passed away yesterday for no apparent reason. An hour before she passed away she did not race out of the coop like normal, rather she stood tall with her legs splayed on the roosting bar (according to my mother). An hour later we found her dead on her side in the coop, seemingly asleep––eyes closed peacefully. She had been eating and drinking with normal consistency and she had as much energy (a lot) as she usually had.

Anyway, does anyone know symptoms of depression for chickens, and is grooming/clicking one of them? I don't believe she is having trouble breathing, so I don't think she has a respiratory issue. Also, has anyone experienced sudden death in their chickens? (she did not die of old age, she was 1 this past july).
Sorry about your chicken passing, chickens just dieing with no apparent reason to us, is quite common and a lot of mine will be fine one day and dead the next, without performing an autopsy you can only go by visual signs as far as it looking contagious, more than likely it's something internal and something that can't be prevented.

Birds will often grind their beaks, in parrots it's a sign of contentment, or done before sleep, in your case it could be from stress, much like us humans grind our teeth, or it could just be part of her grooming to keep her beak in shape. As far as them preening, it could be for the same reasons, stress, or just preening. Hopefully you have plans to find her a friend to help keep her from getting too lonely.

She's probably confused as to where her friend is, though I have seen what appears to depression in my hens when they lose a favorite flock mate. Chickens are more complex than they appear.
Thank you,

I am planning on getting chicks or pullets to join her (after quarantine and such).

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