Sunday, April 27, 2008

The moods of broody banties

Both the bantams, Zora and Edna, are still feelin’ broody but Zora seems to take it more seriously. When I open the gate of the run, Edna watches the other hens scamper out. I think she can’t stand sitting there seeing what a great time they’re having, so she hops down to the ground and flies across the lawn, screaming like a falling plane, to join the crowd. Eventually, Zora comes out for a while (gotta get those dust baths) before returning to the nest to sit on nothing because I’ve taken the eggs.

They both want to spend the night in the hutch where the nest boxes are. The coop itself is a different “building” because each is too small to contain both roosts and nesting areas. Every evening, I have to stretch my arms through the awkwardly small opening in the hutch to lift out reluctant Zora and Edna, one at a time, and carry her over to the coop. They don’t make the angry, whining noises of large hens; they sound more like the way puppies grunt when you pick them up. Another difference: Edna will perch or sit on my hand; Zora is less tame even when broody-sleepy and has to be contained in both hands.

Zora stands on the coop floor looking bewildered—more bewildered than a chicken usually looks if you take note of the body language. If it’s not dark out, I let them figure out that they’re in the coop and eventually join the others on a perch. When it’s dark, I place them on a perch because I don’t know if they’ll venture up on their own.

Which brings up the question of how well can chickens see in the dark, anyway? Having really poor night vision would be a reason why they stay put when it’s dark.

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