Friday, July 25, 2008

Breaking the Habit

Yes, the rumors you've heard are true. Miss Sparrow, the Ameraucana, has become a nest box sleeper:

The last few mornings, I have opened up the coop to find this:

Now, I'm not trying to gross you out or anything, but...well, it's just gross:

Nest boxes are for pretty eggs. This is a filthy habit and one that must be broken.

The first time I ever saw her climb into the box at night, I thought, "Hmmm...a bit late in the day, but (!) hooray (!), she's finally thinking about laying her first egg". Once I realized all she was going to lay was poop, though, I decided to take action.

I figured last night was as good a time as any to being trying to dissuade Sparrow from sleeping in the next box.
So when dusk fell and she jumped in:

I reached in, took her back out and put her on the roost with the other chickens:

She wasn't happy about it and did a bit of Dot-wall-staring for a moment:

...then quickly proceeded back onto the nest box platform:

The left box is clearly her favorite:

But I was going to be a consistent parent. Back to the roost with her:

And back off she...Ok, wait. Am I in a battle of wills...with a chicken?:

Ha! Now what are you going to do, Sparrow. Something's blocking your way into that box. This is why humans are smarter than chickens:

Oh. I guess I should have put something in to block the other boxes, too:

Back to the roost with her:

Over she comes again:

At this moment, it's possible she's thinking "Oh, my HELL, what is UP with this woman...?"

She received absolutely NO support from the 8 chickens fighting over roosting rights on a 2 1/2' branch:

So she continued on down the perch, investigating each box's obstruction. She was no doubt mentally measuring whether she might actually fit into one of the nest boxes WITH a foreign object. She's a smart one, that Sparrow:

Nope...that isn't going to work:

A brick? Really?:

With all of her box options exhausted, she ultimately tried to perch for the night on the nest box perch:

But no. Ms. Consistent (me) placed her gently (again) on the roost with the other girls. She was last seen, pouting on the second perch from the top, muttering quietly to herself:

This morning, there was no poop in any of the nest boxes.
Will we have to go through this again tonight? I'll let you know.


  1. Funny that. My Ameraucana has been really pissing everyone off by deciding to camp out in the nestbox, too. Today she had the balls to drop her egg on the ground outside (cracking it) and then proceed up into the nestbox to take a nap from the exertion.

    The others are not at all amused. She's been getting her ass soundly kicked at least once a day for the last several days.

    Lucky for me, they seem to be more than happy to take care of the problem internally.

  2. Nice coop and chickens! Our first crop of bluberries was July 1, 2008!

  3. Ha! Good luck. We occasionally find a present in the nest box, but most of the time our ladies are pretty good about sleeping on their roosts.

    Are you going to have to sneak down in the morning to take the random objects out of the nests, or did you take them away when the chook finally sat on the roost?

  4. Very funny. I am convinced our girls are smarter than people give them credit for. Sparrow has met her match in you. Soon you will find a lovely green egg in there.

  5. Yes, good luck with that. Even if you win and they don't sleep in the nest boxes, you will still sometimes get poop covered eggs. You are very persistent and creative though.

  6. Hooray for your persistence . . . that was a fun post to read. What a character she is. And how beautiful she is!

  7. You are so funny! I have a chicken that sleeps on the edge of the nest, but at least she hangs her butt outside.

  8. Poor Sparrow. What a toughie you are :o) You'll soon have them all trained well.

    I've read that it's a good idea to keep chickens out of the nest boxes, but I don't worry about it.

    Even if you don't allow them in there, the girls will still occasionally eliminate in the nest boxes while waiting for their eggs to come out.

    Every night all 4 of our nest boxes have a hen sleeping in them.
    I use carpet squares in my nest boxes instead of shavings or straw and it has worked really well for me.

    I don't have to replace any shavings because the wind or my hens have pushed them out or because the straw became soiled. My eggs don't suffer cracks anymore because of shifting straw or shavings and the eggs also tend to be cleaner.

    Every few days I sweep out any poo off the carpet squares and if they do happen to become soiled I can easily replace them with more leftover carpet squares.

  9. I can't wait to see how this turns out!!! She is a tough bird!!!
    Now we know where all these bird saying come from!!

  10. I had the same problem. I decided to tack a piece of fabric to the top of the nest box. At night, I would just roll it down in front of the box openings. It was nothing more than a visual barrier, but it worked.
    I think it's great how she persisted though. You had to wonder what was going on in her little chicken brain. If chickens could cuss?

  11. Too funny. How'd it go last night? Poop or poop-free? :-)

  12. Wow. That is one very persistent chicken. I wonder what about the box appeals to her more than the roost?

  13. Mine all pile in the nesting boxes at night too. I have resorted to just scooping out the poo every morning and putting fresh shavings in so we have clean eggs. ~Kim

  14. Too funny...I hope you're more persistent than she appears to be. I feel it maybe a lost cause. Enjoyed the hell out of the post though.


  15. Ah, the continuing chicken drama..I love it :) I finally had some time to come to the computer and catch up with my favorites, and the donkeys and chickens at your place are always a stop. Thank you for such a thoughtful and wonderful blog, Danni...I passed an award along to you from my blog.

  16. Oh my! What a stubborn chickie! I've got boards covering half of the openings to our nest boxes. This makes it impossible for the chooks to roost on them. The girls may go in and out to lay (future) eggs but sleeping is an uncomfortable option for them. Let's hope they don't change their minds about that! By the way, Miss Sparrow is quite pretty! I love her unique pattern and colors.

  17. "Ok, wait. Am I in a battle of wills...with a chicken?"

    LOLOL I'm going to be chuckling over that line all day. Good luck with her.

  18. You are such a good chicken momma. Persistant but patient.

  19. Helloooo Urban Hayseed: At least your Ameraucana is laying. Not a one from the Sparrow yet.

    Hi meg, I actually removed all the objects before I left that night, once I saw she had settled down. I didn't want to risk not getting down there in time the next morning and having my layers lay on the ground! :-)

    Hi Eve, how funny...I find those ancient chicken phrases coming out of my mouth all the time and they make SO much more sense to me now! :-)

    Hi ceecee - yes, hanging something across the front was going to be my next attempt, if this plan hadn't worked.

    Hi difangle!! Two nights and counting: Poop FREE! Hooray! :-)
    Still no Sparrow eggs, though. lol

    Hi kathryn, I'm not sure why she started preferring the nest box, but I had noticed lately that she's become more of a loner and that the others have started pecking her a bit more. Maybe she just can't stand the nightly rowdy roosting ritual that takes place and preferred the cozy confines of a solitary box! :-)

    Hi Robbyn, thank you so much for the award. You made me smile really big!

  20. The thoughts of a chicken are hilarious! :) Thank you!

  21. I need to do something about one of our hens. She has taken to sleeping in the nest box too. Usually it doesn't last long but she has really gotten a bad habit. I don't want it to spread to the other girls.

    Thanks for the tips.

  22. This had me laughing out loud at home but no one noticed. I guess I must be a mental case but the persistence of Sparrow was so cute. I wonder if she thought about who might have laid a brick.

  23. ours do the same thing. Guess I will have to go out tonight and move them. Thanks for giving me a laugh. love your blog


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