Communicating with Chickens
I recently welcomed three new bantam hens into our chicken flock and animal family. Coco, Beauty, and Mixie were raised with a lot of love, handling, and care, and they have brought a beautiful energy of sweetness and joy to our home.
The flock now consists of 8 chickens: our rooster, Mr. Rosie (aka Methuselah…he’s nine years old this year, and going strong…I think that’s about 742 in human years…); and seven hens ranging from one to seven years old.
My chickens are often animal teachers for my animal communication classes. People who aren’t familiar with chickens are often surprised to realize how intelligent, sensitive, aware, and fun chickens are, and how interesting and sweet it is to communicate with them.
I have learned so much from spending time with and communicating with my chickens. Here are a few of the gems of chicken wisdom that I’ve received from my flock:
1. Be delighted by everything.
One of the things I love most about chickens is how easily they are delighted…and what small things are such a big, joyful deal to them. New leaves and dirt in their run…grasses…treats like watermelon rinds, meal worms (aka Chicken Crack), soft lettuces and fruit…the smallest things become an ecstasy of excitement and joy for our chickens.
I’m reminded over and over again by our flock that it is indeed the simple, small things in life that are the most beautiful and delightful.
Here’s the latest “Chicken Enrichment” fun: a head of lettuce hung from a rope. The chickens peck at it like a tether ball…and before long, it’s gone!
Chickens are fabulously fun and entertaining. I have chairs set up outside our chicken run, and I can lose complete track of time watching the enchanting antics of our flock. My friends tease me about watching “Chicken TV”…it’s so much fun to share in their pleasure and joy!
2. Raise your voice often and express how you feel about things.
Not everyone loves the crow of roosters, but I do. Our neighborhood is full of roosters, and there is nothing sweeter to me than hearing the rooster chorus, or being greeted by our elder rooster, Mr. Rosie, as we come and go.
Mr. Rosie crows for all kinds of occasions: greeting us, announcing his good care of his flock of hens, expressing joy at new food treats, answering other neighborhood roos, and singing to the full moon.
There are many different songs and calls for all important events in chicken society. Here are a few:
The Egg Song: This song starts with a hen announcing her intention to lay an egg, then moves into the “I laid an egg! I laid an egg! I laid an egg!” song. Then, there is an echoing chorus from the other hens: “She laid an egg! She laid an egg! She laid an egg!”
Sometimes this song will go on and on, with many choruses and variations. When they sing it, I feel the excitement and joy that the hens experience when they lay their eggs.
The Dustbath Coo: This is my personal favorite…the chickens go into a little trance when dustbathing…and make sweet, gentle, contented little coos and clucks.
The Danger Alarm: This unmistakable alarm/shriek lets us know if any danger, or perceived danger, is near the chicken run. We have our chickens completely enclosed and safe from predators, but they will still alarm if they see or sense that something is amiss. Frequently it’s one of our cats in the cat yard….but occasionally it’s been a hawk or raccoon that is important for us to know about.
The Boy Germs Shriek: This is the one that the hens sing when they are avoiding Mr. Rosie…he’s easily avoided, which is good for the hens, not so good for him. 🙂
There are also dozens of other variations in chicken language and song. It’s fun for me to listen, and then to tune in telepathically and find out what each song and variation is about.
3. Enjoy your body and connect to the Earth.
My chickens show me how much they relish their connection with the earth…how they love the feel of dirt, leaves, and the sun; how much they enjoy the cool wet mist and mud that we provide for them in the summertime when it’s hot; how they love to feel their feet touching the ground and the sun and fresh air on their bodies.
Chickens also see in amazing Technicolor…it’s completely different from human vision. They see colors, motion and objects in a much more sensitive and precise way than humans and other mammals do. I’ve learned so much about chicken behavior and perspective from asking them to show me how they see and perceive the world around them. Here’s an interesting article on chicken vision.
4. Don’t judge and evaluate situations from your perspective. Find out what the perspective is of those involved before jumping to conclusions.
I’ve learned this lesson mostly from my reluctance to accept some aspects of chicken society. That pecking order thing…yup, it’s a bit of a tough one for me. Chickens can be brutal to each other from a human perspective. We only have one rooster, so we don’t have a problem with rooster-rooster aggression, but the hens can enforce the pecking order quite harshly at times. I hate to see blood, and I hate to see the low hens getting run around and picked on.
We introduced the new hens carefully over several days, and so far, thankfully, all have integrated into the flock peacefully.
Here’s the thing about the pecking order: it works as long as everyone knows, and stays in, their place in the hierarchy. It’s important for chickens to have enough space, and lots of options for avoiding each other if necessary. As long as those things are in place, and everyone agrees who is in charge and what the order is, there is peace and harmony.
My chickens have shown me that they have a feeling of safety and security from knowing their place in the flock. Certainly, no one likes to be beat up, and thankfully that doesn’t happen very often. But their perspective on their society is completely different from mine. What looks violent to me is a simple fact of life for chickens…and they are very matter of fact about it.
My emotional response to the pecking order is a human projection…but not one shared by the chickens. I try to remember this lesson any time I’m tempted to judge or draw conclusions about another’s reality…I don’t really know what’s true for anyone unless I understand it from their perspective.
Communicating with chickens and having relationships with them is one of the great joys of my life. I love each of them, and I love to feel and understand their unique and beautiful perspective on the world. Chickens have spiritual awareness and sensitivity, as do all animals…and having them in our home and family is a wonderful blessing of sweetness, joy, and fun.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
If you’d like to learn to communicate with chickens and other animals, check out the Beginning Animal Communication Online Class!