Face Recognition and Other Chicken Matters

May 29, 2020 | 0 comments

Yep! It’s Me!
Sydney, 1941

Not too many years ago, there was a program on TV about Face Blindness — the inability to recognize or differentiate faces.  My knee-jerk reaction was, “Aha!  That’s what I have.”  Since then I’ve learned quite a bit about prosopagnosia (technical term) and have concluded that I probably don’t have  that specific problem — just old age and DBF — Dimming Brain Function (not a technical term.)

And then the other day, my friend Pat Krager sent me a list of  “Five Fun Facts About Chickens.”   The very second fact on the list was… yes!  Chickens can remember and recognize over 100 different faces (both human and animal.)  Extremely daunting news to a chicken farmer’s wife who once thought she had Face Blindness!  It wasn’t a quantam leap to conclude that our chickens are smarter than I am, at least in that respect.

The other four facts were not so revelationary.  I had either figured them out or heard them before:
A chicken can can learn to recognize its own name, and the names of other chickens in the flock.  Yes, I’m sure this is true.  Both of our current chickens (and, granted, there are only two) look up or even approach me when I say their names and seem to realize when I’m talking to one and not the other.
Hens and their hatching chicks converse through the shell, allowing chicks to recognize their mother’s voice.  I’ve always understood that this early communication between mother and offspring was true of many members of the animal kingdom.
Chickens are among the closest living relatives to the Tyrannosaurus rex.  Yep.  Teach a Dinosaur Unit to second graders for enough years and you chalk up such knowledge to extraneous information that will probably never come in handy.

Distant Cousin?

A chicken’s vocabulary includes at least 30 words.  All I can say about that is, if you have been reading my blog for very long, “I told you so!  I told you so!  I told you so!”

Mostly, I’m glad to know that Little Red Hen and Slutvana recognize my face because, even though I’ve assured myself that I am not Face Blind, there may come a day when I no longer recognize their’s.  But don’t tell them!  Even if you do know the same 30 words they do!




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