Why did my chicks get so scared?

Advertisement Purina Flock Layer


9 Years
Jun 12, 2010
Hello everyone, I just got my first chickens, buff orpingtons, and everything has been going well with them (1 week old now) but today something strange happened. I was sitting down with them in the coop, and I thought I would show them a bunch of different objects to explore/play with. Everything was going fine until I showed them my mp3 player, and for some reason they freaked out BAD! You would think I dropped a rattle snake right in front of them or something. I made no sudden movements, and the mp3 player is just a tiny red box. I thought chicks were supposed to be attracted to red, hence the color of the feeders and waterers. They got so scared a few ran full speed across the coop, one even crashing into the wall (didn't get hurt thankfully), and proceeded to huddle together, petrified in the corner making their distressed peeping sound for at least 10 minutes before they calmed down.

I felt so bad for them. Of course I put the mp3 player away immediately, and sprinkled some food around to try to distract them, but they were just scared stiff. I know chickens are suspicious of new objects, but I didn't think they would be downright terrified of some. Everything else I showed them they were OK with, but they sure did hate that mp3 player!
They'll do things like that throughout their life. Obviously something strikes them instinctively as threatening. They especially don't like anything over their heads, reminds them of hawks I guess. Sometimes I can carry something in my hand and they don't even notice. Sometimes something will send them crowding in a corner. A few days ago I moved my chicken tractor with the adults in it near the run so the young and old can get used to each other before I try integration. The young ones panicked at the sigth of the tractor. One crowded so hard into the corner of the run it got stuck and I had to get it out. The first time I took my lawn mower near the run, they ran inside the coop as fast as possible. Now, when they hear the lawn mower near them, they crowd the run fence since they learned that when I mow next to the run, it throws small bits of green stuff in the run. They can learn.
My girls are about 6 weeks old and they are much spazzier than I thought! I remember when I was a kid my grandparents had chickens roaming all around and I don't remember them ever freaking out, even when I was tasked with catching one for dinner I don't remember them spazzing out. Now sometimes if I make a sudden movement they get all freaked out and flap their wings and stuff.

I don't know if they just need to get to know that their food giver moves around, or if I should move slow around them. That's not really my style so I figure as long as I chat and sing to them and give food and treats they'll learn to love me.

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