Rethinking the Intelligence of Chickens

For anyone who doesn’t think chickens or other birds are intelligent or emotional, I present to you, Carol… the chicken who is ruining my life.

Carol came to us from the Seattle Animal Shelter after being found as a stray. Sometimes when she gets on my last nerve I tell her I can kind of understand how she ended up in a shelter, but then I apologize. Carol is just… being Carol.

She screeches at dawn to be let out of her pen, so I bought her a new fancy coop I could put in the aviary with an automatic door so she could let HERSELF out into the safe aviary and not be at risk of danger from hawks or raccoons in the early morning.

This wasn’t enough for Carol. She did not think the 850sq foot aviary was big enough for her early morning routine. So she’d let herself out of the fancy new coop and then screech at the aviary door at dawn.

I have neighbors. Nice neighbors that I like very much. So for the past year or so I have been up at dawn every day. Thankfully in Seattle this is very late in the winter, so I don’t have to worry about it. But from May to October I am up at 6am or earlier… every day, without fail.

I get up, grab some blankets and go lay on the lawn to sleep there so Carol can forage in safety without screeching. This worked for months and months, but now Carol trusts me and has decided that we are BFFs and as her BFF I should groom her face and pet her.

So instead of getting to sleep on the lawn in the early morning, I get pecked in the head or arms until I pet Carol’s face.

Peck peck, pet pet pet. Peck peck peck, pet pet. Oh have you fallen asleep again? Peck peck… pet pet pet.

I’m pretty sure she’s the smarter one between the two of us. Clearly I am trainable though, so there’s hope for me still.

15. August 2012 by Silly Human
Categories: Random | 6 comments

Comments (6)

  1. Carol is rethinking your intelligence, by the sound of it.

    Go, Carol!

  2. Carol has definitely got you trained! 🙂 In the winter, Punky, my tiny rooster, lives in the house and sleeps in my dark bathroom. He sleeps in pretty well, thank goodness!

  3. Haha I hope you will forgive the fact that I can’t stop laughing! It’s terrible that you’re having to get up so early but my goodness, that is one funny chicken!

    • Yeah, she is a real piece of work. This morning I tried just ignoring her, and pushing her away when she pecked me. I did pet her once. I feel bad but I need some SLEEP. I hope she doesn’t stop asking for face pets if I push her away sometimes.

  4. You are a wonderful person, I have a Carol named Grace. Graceful, she is NOT….my beautiful Guinea hen….I built her around a dozen different options and levels to roost up with her companions, who watched nightly as she leaped and slammed into the barn side, flopped down the levels of roost…as I cheered her on…encouraged her to keep on trying…sweating with her through the summer heat (some nights for a couple of hours until she’d give up and sleep on the floor in the shavings, defeated) Of course then there was the need for additional fans for her and extra treats to help her feel less mortified. I tried lifting her up there….she panicked…and I knew she could do it…but she’d panic..I could see the panic begin with her pacing…and then would know it was going to be another long hot night in the barn.

    I had neighbors who asked what the loud thumping sounds were coming from the barn…”Oh that’s just Grace, don’t worry, she’s just practicing some olympic leaping.” Gracie now is making it up with her pals, finally….as Fall has come to Maryland and it’s nice and cool, of course. My last idea was to convert one of my kid’s old snowboards (inverted) into a ramp to up to one of the roosts.. drilled and screwed in for safety of course…it’s covered in a soft grip liner so she won’t slide and she loves it, runs up like a wild woman…so thrilled….and although my barn looks more like a jungle gym at this point in the Guinea roosting area….I like the fact that they have a lot of options. Nice to know I’m not alone in the love of lovely birdies. I’m so terribly sorry to read about Mr. Flapper. I was devastated when I lost my first two birds…I understand your pain and the void it leaves. I have 15 Pekins and love them so much. Love your blog, old and new.

  5. Ha ha ha…I would have thought you were absolutely crazy about 3 months ago when I didn’t have 20 chickens like I do now.

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