Snarky Ms. Ara… or do chickens have personalities?

Oct 30, 2010 | 2 comments

Ms. Ara in Molting Mode

     According to everything I’ve read and heard, hens exhibit many signs of depression when they are molting.  They avoid the rest of the flock, they have less energy than usual, and they appear to sulk.  Not so our Ms. Ara.
     She is downright snarky.  Not only is she the first to muscle her way past her colleagues when she sees me on my way with treats, she pecks and hops at the others unmercifully, trying to prevent anyone else from a fair share.  She is not lurking out of sight or in the corner of the run; she is ‘out there’ being every bit the most aggressive consumer of the coop.  She just seems to be in a continuously fowl mood!
     So, I began to wonder about chicken psyches and personalities.  Just how much room is there in those little pea brains for emotions like embarrassment or jealousy or shame?  And how much do we project from our own feelings?
     If I were a hen person and looked like Ms. Ara does now – no tail,  just a rounded butt end with unsightly skin and pin feathers in place of feathery wings – I think I’d be hiding out.  But I definitely know people who, like Ms. Ara,  would stick out their chins and dare the world to make a comment.  I always admire that sort.  I think they must be the ‘fighters’ when it comes to the fight-or-flight syndrome.
     Before her molt began, Ms. Ara was relatively placid.  When foraging in the garden, she sometimes went off exploring on her own and sometimes joined the others in a friendly hen party.  Mostly, there was a feeling of peaceful co-existence except, of course, when the two new, teenagers were introduced to the flock.  They are both part araucana (they came from blue eggs) but Ms. Ara has never given them any special notice — no birds-of-a-feather sort of chumminess.  She treats them shamefully, just as do the other ladies of the coop – all according to the normal pecking order.
     We are waiting to see how the four other grownup hens act when, and if, they molt.  Will they be cranky?  Or will they keep a low profile?  And will Ms. Ara’s pleasant personality return along with her feathers?
     Every day is interesting with chickens…


2 Comments

  1. Stephanie Frieze

    Who knew there was this whole secret life of chickens? I certainly didn’t! I hope that Ms Ara recovers her normal personality and gets over her seemlingly PMS.

    Reply
  2. Stephanie K. Frieze

    Sydney, I would love to be able to share your posts with my friends. When you put up the link to your blog, could you allow for sharing?

    Reply

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