Huddling Up for Safety

Apr 11, 2012 | 4 comments

Altogether Now!

      These baby chicks make me laugh.  And they make me think, too.  When we looming humans come within sight suddenly and unexpectedly, they all scurry together and form a big ball of fluff.  Perhaps ‘safety in numbers’ has something to do with it.
     I’ve been watching to see if it’s the same chicks who always manage to get to the center of the group, hiding themselves completely.  And, eventually, where will they be in the pecking order?  Will they be the alpha hens?  Or do the stronger birds form the perimeter to protect the others?  Maybe those on the outer limits are the roosters, already trying to protect their flock?  Or is their configuration all a happy accident?
      If I’d take the time to do a little research, I could probably answer all these questions.  We have several books about raising backyard chickens and they seem to cover every contingency.  But pondering is nice, too.  I’ve been wondering if I could write a book along the lines of Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten – “All I Need to Know I Learned from Being a Chicken Voyeur?”
     I also wonder when chicks learn to scatter instead of huddle.  In the past, when we have had full-grown hens, I’ve noticed that they run every which-way when an eagle or hawk flies over.  They usually head for cover – under the house or in the bushes.  But they don’t necessarily go to the closest point of safety.  Instinct?  Yes.  Intelligence?  Not so much.
     However even now, at less than a week old, the chicks are beginning to be a bit braver, especially if we give them some warning that we’re on our way.  I try to remember to talk as I enter the room, before I’m close enough to be seen.  Or, I sing.  I wonder what they think.  Whatever it is, they seem less skittish when they are forewarned.  But then, aren’t we all?


  1. Jenny

    Your poultry ponderings are a pleasure to read!

  2. Jean Stamper

    Glad to see that the Stevens will be back in the egg business again. We love the fresh eggs!

  3. Kitt

    The beauty of the simple pleasures of life… watching baby chicks grow and wondering about their world! Thank you for sharing this journey.

  4. Stephanie Frieze

    Your baby chicks and your ponderings are just right for the season. Too many folks are divorced from nature. You’ve got the meaning of Spring right there in those little fluff balls!


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