Who's at the top of my pecking order?

maryn7

Chirping
Apr 29, 2020
85
99
53
NE Illinois
I've got three birds, an Olive Egger, a Barred Rock, and a Rhode Island Red. Got them at a day old. They're now 17 weeks.

The BR has been the most inquisitive/aggressive since we got them - first to fly out of the brooder, bossy, bitey, and the most adventurous; I assumed she was the head of the flock. The RIR is super mellow, everyone likes her and she keeps it moving. The Olive Egger is physically the biggest but has always been prissy and whiny; she used to cry if the other two got out of sight and complains about everything. But these days, she's also the one I see square off against the BR, though she usually backs down. But she's also the most creative with our new run (they were free range, but we needed our patio and garden boxes back). The OE is the only one who has figured out how to escape repeatedly, and I think that's upped her pecking order currency. The BR is much more mellow now that she's in a run and isn't the boss of the whole yard (she was chasing squirrels and birds and generally observing her domain).

The weirdest part of all of it is that maybe a month ago we had trouble for a few weeks getting them to return to the coop at night (they preferred our back porch). In trying to lure them back to the coop, we tried taking one bird out to see if the others would follow. The first night, we took the BR, since she's the presumed leader - no one cared. Then, we tried taking the OE, no one cared. But when we took the RIR, the other two followed right away. Like, immediately - they couldn't stand to be without her.

Generally, there is always a pair roosting or pecking or grooming somewhere, and then one separate doing something else or sitting on their own. And the RIR is always part of the pair; I've never found her on her own. They other two are both clearly very obsessed with her; if she's out of sight, they go looking for her.

Is the RIR our low-key leader? Or is there a flock middle child that is easy going and keeps everybody happy?

It's not like there's conflict - they all get along very well, but I'm interested in generally learning more about how pecking order works or the ways it expresses itself in small flocks. Everything I've seen online is like, "there is a clear chicken on top" and that doesn't seem to be the case for my girls.

Thanks!
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
10 Years
Nov 12, 2009
8,282
9,339
596
western South Dakota
I think it is much more fluid than that. Sometimes I can identify a top bird, but not always, and not always the same bird through out life. If you have a peaceful flock with enough resources and enough space, then it is really rather a good sign you can't identify the bottom bird. If you can, then that birds is really getting a raw deal.

I think it is a good sign if you are not sure.

MRs K
 

maryn7

Chirping
Apr 29, 2020
85
99
53
NE Illinois
They are extremely chill birds with each other - they genuinely seem to just like hanging out together (and cramming into the smallest possible space on their plenty large roost). Glad to hear that a fluid situation is a good one. Thanks!
 

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