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Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by centrarchid, Jan 3, 2017.
Interesting article.Most people that say chickens are stupid absolutely know nothing about them its amazing.
Saying at least 24 vocalizations is an understatement.
I have yet to learn what all those noises (vocalizations) mean, but sometimes I can understand what they are "saying" especially when I'm late for "treat time"!
My hens are slightly easier to read, but now, my rooster...oh boy, some of the sounds he makes...he will stand on his perch and just carry on with whistles, growls and all sorts of chatter. I love to hear him. I just wish I knew what it all means.
Get down at his level and follow him around. Part of my approach was to set near a penned rooster for extended periods. A fair portion of what I learned involved hanging close with birds as they went up and came down from roost. Mine would allow me to walk out with them to trees in field where they would stand at my feet before flying way up past my head to roost. Lots of calls associated with that. They also produced calls indicating preparation for long flights that I call wirr-cackle. Long flights are like a couple hundred yards across a field. Sounds referring hawks can be broken up into perceived threat level. Different calls for different types of food. They also produce calls of particular type only when one group threatens another.
My run starts about 15-20' from my backdoor. I can see and hear them from the kitchen and living room - they watch me just about as much as I watch them I can't imagine that Charlie could fly any distance at all - he sure doesn't flutter from roost or perches, just jumps down with a big thud - I haven't weighed him in a long time, but last week when I picked him up for inspection I would say he is around 8lbs - so not a flier.
Mainly when I hear some of his most interesting noises is when I'm inside ( I try to keep a window open/weather permitting) . Since they are so close to the house, I can hear a lot with windows closed as well. Some is behavioral I'm sure, when he makes certain calls/noises - a person appears in the window or at the backdoor No, I don't go out with treats when he does this, but he knows me or DH will usually look to see what is going on and guess what...Charlie is standing there watching the window and door
I do notice a difference in his "speech pattern" between morning treats, mid-day mash with fruit/veggies and late day "snack". Also different sounds for different foods I bring. Hard boiled eggs or grapes really get him going. But say, shredded carrot, not so much.
I'm going to have to pay even more attention to the different sounds. The girls I can tell who is doing what by the vocalizations. Each one has a distinctive voice for sure.
I have a few photos of him and the girls, if you are interested here:https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1146592/byc-member-interview-wyorp-rock
Very nice setup. Yes, flight potential low. Again, very nice setup. Even setup I grew up with not as scenic when comes to actual coop.
Environment the chickens have is already enriched which sets up so interesting calls likely already being made. What you might try putting out little feed dishes where each has only one type of feed item. Try some of the following; live meal worms, freeze fried meal worms, BOSS, shell corn, millet, regular feed, scratch feed, oyster shell, grit and greens of some sort. Make so birds can not ID items until standing almost directly over container. Consider spreading containers spatially (horizontally and vertically).
Will have to try using more dishes. When I give their mid-day "mash" I do use 2 dishes, if not, those Barred Rocks are known to dominate a single bowl. I place dishes apart so everyone has a chance. I hang greens or apple most days and scatter a little BOSS/scratch in morning/evening.
I don't free range at all, so try to keep them busy with hanging bamboo bundles or adding new leaves/pine needles to the run, etc. I have been known to chop up Kale (their favorite) or if in season pull chickweed, dandelion, etc. and mix it in the wheelbarrow of pine needles. Scratching activity and excited tidbiting - look-look-look noises abound by doing this. The girls make what I can only describe as happy chattering noises as they busily look through their new bounty.
I would love to let them free range in the field, garden and woods (11.5+acres) but this would need to be heavily patrolled or protected, so right now, not an option. Predator population varies, but I have only seen one rabbit in about 3months.
Last night I saw no less than a dozen rabbits at once immediately in front of house. Bunny making season just started. I have Great-horned Owls nesting not too far to south. Cooper's Hawk works my barn multiple times each day perching in same spot where it craps into a waterer. I still free-range.
Listen to your Barred Rocks when they defend feed deposit. Sounds they direct at others very different from those they direct at each other I bet.
Have you ever messed around with the feeder blocks like used for wild birds? They can be used to provide interesting feeding challenges. First get birds to learn it is good, then make so the have to work for it by placing it up where birds must do some jumping and balancing. See if you see any collaboration.