Thursday, June 5, 2008

What's my hen trying to tell me?

I need some advice.

As I've blogged about a lot, I have 12 chickens. They are now three months old. All seem to be very healthy and quite happy. I have a wide variety of different breeds and I've noticed that each chicken has a different temperament and personality. I have one Buff Orpington who, until now, has always been docile but more than a little timid. She's friendly but she pretty much does her own thing. She has never paid me that much attention.

Until now.

Spongebob (named by my 8-year-old nephew, Andrew) has started walking circles around me when I'm sitting at the coop, making very unusual deep-throated chicken chirping sounds that I don't recognize. She will then jump into my lap and look at me intently, occasionally pecking me and my clothes, while continuing to make that odd deep chirping sound. Do any of you recognize this sound? What is she trying to tell me?

I'm including a video of her in my lap. Unfortunately, my A.D.D. sort of kicked in and I filmed my other chickens, too, but I think you'll get what I'm wondering about:

What say you, the experts?


  1. Our chickens make that that noise sometimes, and I equate it to the whining/begging noise that dogs make when they want something.

    I think she wants you to dig her up a nice fat grub..

  2. Maybe she's realizing how important you are to her life after all! Being one with no experience with chickens at all, I'm anxious to hear what the experts have to say.

  3. She likes you and wants attention. I've never had a hen behave this way as she reached laying age that didn't eventually become broody and a good mother.

    Eggs before the end of next month!

  4. Spongebob (not a very feminine name for such a beautiful blonde girl!)is just fine. She is loving you as her Mother Hen. She doesn't have any other Buffs to keep her company, so you have become her Buff Orpington Mom.

    I have had many Buffs. They are my absolute favorite chickens to raise. They are calm and they lay well. They all used to climb up on my lap just like Spongebob did to you in the video, when they were at that age. Be careful not to wear jewelry like earrings or necklaces when you are down there sitting with your chickens. Mine pecked at my shirt buttons and my earrings and I was afraid they would eat them. Not good for the chicken or you.

    Those "cooing" sounds are just that. She is asking for your attention, love and maybe some extra food treats.

    Also, the roosters, when mature, will make gutteral throaty "clicking" sounds to alert their flock of hens when they discover food. You can actually mimic these sounds to announce food for your girls. It's pretty easy. And pretty funny if someone else is listening.

    I loved your video. Spongebob is so beautiful. I miss those young chicken days when they climbed up on me.

  5. I think Spongebob asked you to marry her!

    I've finally gotten a chance to catch up on your other blog posts this week: the donkeys are just too lovely for words!

  6. I never knew chickens could be so CUTE!

  7. I am not an expert but had a pullet who was a nervous girl, then one day she was looking like she wanted to hop on me, I was standing. Luckily I put my arm up and she landed on it, she did this 2 different times. Go figure. The girls do start getting friendlier closer to egg laying time, soon they will start assuming the position for you. Thats hot. ;-)

  8. Hi meg - well, I'm familiar with the little cheeping-peeping that they do to tempt me into giving them treats - this is a different sound entirely. But I'll try the grub and see what she says! :-)

    Hi californiagrammy - wow, if that's what she's realizing, I need to figure out a way to get my 16-year-old son to realize this, too! LOL

    Hi seasonseatingsfarm - I've heard the Buff Orpingtons frequently become broody, so this wouldn't surprise me. Serious? Eggs by the end of next month? That would make them only 4 1/2 - 4 3/4 months old - I was thinking it wouldn't be until they were 5-6 mo old.

    Hi farmer jen - Yeah, she's pretty intense around my buttons and bracelet. I totally need to watch my earrings! I haven't heard Roopert or Pip do any kind of food cluck for the girls yet, I will delight, in fact, in them showing any kind of protective or caring signs towards the ladies at all at this point. They're kind of in it for themselves currently, if you know what I mean. :-)

    Hi kathryn and ari - thanks :-). i'm still blown away by your soon-to-be-published book! When do we get to hear more details? Did you have this in mind when you first began writing your blog?

    Hi suzann - now for a donkey girl to think my chickens are cute, that's just AWESOME!! :-)

    Hi sugarcreekstuff - that's it exactly. Jim was standing up in the coop area the other day and Spongebob tried to fly up to his arm. He (jim) was a jerk though and wouldn't catch her, so she just flew back down looking dejected. Poor little lamb. Guess I'd better start thinking about nesting boxes, eh? I figured I had at least another 2 1/2 months to go!

  9. I love the recent donkey and chicken videos. It looks like so much fun. I envy all your critter time.

  10. Hi there! I love your blog (I have rewatched the donkeys-avoiding-the-rain video quite a few times already) and I have a (hopefully) small request: would you consider changing your feed settings to show the full post? I read blogs through the Google feedreader, and the current settings cut off each post after the first paragraph.

    Thanks for considering it, and either way, love the blog. :)


  11. My hubbie does appreciate the fresh eggs and loves the girls grazing across the lawn getting rid of bugs and weed seeds as they go, he hates the chicken poop on the porch, in the garage and probably will never let a chicken sit on his arm. Yet we are deeply in love.

  12. She just loves you very much Danni! She's showing you the best way she knows how! ;-)

    I haven't gotten my Guineas yet, but I had a dream last night that a sea gull swallowed one of my keets!!! I grabbed him by the neck and was just about to perform emergency surgery when my brain woke me up....I really didn't need to go there!!!

  13. I agree with farmer jen. I love orps! And your girl likes you! She may very well start laying sooner than the rest (unless it's ungodly hot) so I'd get those boxes up. I've had birds lay as early as 16 weeks.

  14. She just saying "You're my favorite Mommy!"

  15. Looks to me like she loves you and you will have eggs soon. I love all of your videos, you seem so happy and comfortable with the donkeys. I mean, that's a lot of donkeys! Your amazing. :)

  16. She is content and letting you know she feels safe with you! When our chickens laid their first egg it was very exciting. Are you feeding them oyster shells?? This will make the shell of the egg harder. The first egg will have a soft shell! They should start laying around 5-6 months! We have one rooster and he won't let us near the girls anymore. He is MEAN!!!!! I've been trying to talk my boyfriend into getting him a new home, so we can get more chicks. This winter was hard on the chickens and we lost 2! :(

    I love reading your blog and your newest adventure with the donkeys! I wish we could adopt a few!!!

  17. Okay, I am quite certain she is asking for Peanuts. That has to be it.

  18. Hi nw nature nut! You totally have to come out here some time - I still pinch myself with the realization that I do, actually, live on a farm now. It's so awesome. Thanks for your kind words.

    Hi ivy, thanks so much for commenting (and enjoying my blog). The reason I haven't changed that setting is that, if I do, I am unable to track my readership. In order for me to be able to tell which posts get read and such, it's my understanding that a reader has to come directly to my site. Right now, I can totally tell if I post something dumb or uninteresting because my "stats" drop! lol

    Hi sugarcreekstuff - you make me laugh. thank you for that. :-)

    Hi eve - is a "keet" a baby guinea? What an interesting dream! Good to know you were going the route of emergency surgery rather than panicking, though, right? ;-)

    Hi farm mom - oh dear, four months and laying, huh? Guess I'd really better get a move on on those boxes. If I were as clever as sugarcreekstuff, I'd be able to find an old dresser along the side of the road to use as nesting boxes, but I don't think I'm going to be so lucky! :-)

    Thanks Tocco - I sure hope that's what she's saying! She's a sweetie. :-)

    Hi outerbanks mom, your comment made me laugh. Yes, I do have a lot of donkeys. I think it overwhelms my husband way more than it does me, though, isn't that funny? And he's not even the one who's taking care of them. And...thanks for your really nice comment...

    Hi Shannon, should I be feeding them oyster shell now? They're only 3 months old, I thought I was supposed to wait until they started laying. I think I read somewhere that giving them too much calcium now when they're not fully developed can cause damage and even maybe make them egg-bound? Right now, they get crumble, a dish of grit, and leftovers from "Danni's kitchen": noodles, potatoes, strawberries, greens, bread, cottage cheese, etc.

    Hi Marigold! How could I be so silly! That's it, of course. Spongebob is wanting peanuts!
    :-) :-)

  19. Oh how I long to have a chicken in my lap! And Dot is just beautiful all grown up. I can't wait until they start laying.

  20. She has bonded with you for sure. She seems to enjoy her time with you very much. I have a Barred Rock with the same personality and she seems to want to spend time with me whenever she gets the chance. Your girl is very sweet, lucky you!

  21. I asked my boyfriend and we didn't start feeding them oyster shells until after they started laying. Sorry for the confusion!! Our chickens love anything that has pasta in it!! Love the video of the donkeys! You are a very lucky woman!!! Keep posting...I love it!!!


I ♥ it when you leave a comment.