I've been putting my chicks out -- they are 3-5 weeks old, maybe a week older, if that (they are feed store chicks, I don't know their age exactly) in their coop and pen during the day, and letting them out to forage for a few hours a day, mindful of hawks. They've been staying in a stretch of about 50-100 feet that is overgrown with jewelweed when they are out, which is next to their coop, and periodically going back to their coop, even staying and sunbathing there. So I was just starting to get comfortable with the arrangement. Their behavior was predictable. Until now. Just about an hour ago, they "turned the corner" and started heading up to the house, and to a long stretch of bushes that borders my fence. Then they were under the screen porch. I couldn't make them go back. It was 8pm and they were still foraging as if they hadn't been eating non stop all day. I was so afraid they'd slip under a hole in the fence, or get under the screen porch and I wouldn't be able to get them and then they'd get eaten by any number of night predators. Finally they came out enough that I managed to get between them and cover and I chased them back -- but instead of going in their pen, they went to their usual jewelweed patch. Then they finally went in. I had no idea they'd suddenly, at *dusk*, go wild and start haring off into unfamiliar territory and to keep going and going and I had no idea if they could find their way back. Is this normal? I didn't like it at all. I'm almost ready to give up this foraging idea. Should I have trusted them to find their way back? I would have thought they wouldn't have gone quite so far from "home base". That they would have gone in stages as they had up till now. Till now, they never went so far, and always went back every few minutes to close to their pen. It was like they went from staying within 40 feet to suddenly going 150 feet, out of sight of their coop. As if they had no concerns at all about predators or getting back, when before they'd been so careful. What caused this 180 degree turn? Should I have trusted them to find their way home?