Growth and Life and Death

The five baby girls are all doing very well – their wings are about two-thirds fledged, and they’re probably twice as tall as they were less than a week ago. It’s astounding how quickly they’re growing up. They have absolutely ridiculous sprouts where their tail feathers will soon be, and they’re strutting around and scratching like “real” chickens. They even try to dust-bathe in the non-existent dirt.

I’m spending about a half an hour each night handling them so they’ll grow up used to it, and tonight I introduced a few new objects into their enclosure – which is quickly becoming very small. While working at the wolf sanctuary, I learned how “enrichment” is very important to captive animals. Something novel to stimulate and interest them, to engage them, to break the monotony of captive life. While chickens are assuredly less needy in that department than apex predators, they’re very interested in seeing what’s outside their crate.

Tonight, I brought in a couple of branches, a dried bunch of flowers with seed pods and a wooden rod. We’ve been practicing our perching! While they can’t quite get up there without my help yet, it won’t be long before they can. Perching is difficult business – they have to hold on, balance and develop very fine muscle control. This is also an good opportunity for them to learn hands aren’t something to freak out about, but rather, something that will deliver them to a much-prized high outlook point.

We have the three webcams installed, and some of my co-workers and friends watch it. As I was picking them up to teach them to perch, the following came across Twitter:



Severin Severinoscopy

@AniKing Looks like a hairless Godzilla is terrorizing the wee Chick planet.

I love my friends. 🙂

The chicks are doing something new every day. Yesterday, one of them got ahold of a particularly delicious sprout I’d culled for them, and rather than just eat it outright, she ran around with it shrieking her delight and trying to keep it away from the others – who naturally ran her down and she eventually surrendered it. If she’d just eaten it, no one would have been the wiser, but no.

Running is very popular these days. Running and flapping at the same time, huge fun.

They were initially terrified of each new object, but then took to everything with a gusto. The dried flower was particularly keen to them,  and they ate a lot of it before I realized I’d better make sure it’s not poisonous to them. Anyone have a clue what the heck this sort of flower is?

They’re starting to establish dominance, too. They try to “out-tall” each other a lot, and are starting to jump up in the process. One of them is very much larger than the others, she has been since the start, and I think she’ll probably end up in charge.

That’s all for now – time to collapse.

Oh, the “death” part – my one and only sprouted pepper plant kicked the bucket today. Stupid peppers. :-

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4 responses to Growth and Life and Death

  1. Oh so very cute! Love your camera (live nude chicks). Enjoying your experience with chickens vicariously. Glad to hear the death was with a pepper and not a peeper (pecker?).

  2. Sarah

    Erin, try some grass clippings and carrot shavings for enrichment items. My girls always enjoyed their carrots!

    A variety of bugs also work well for enrichment, my favorite being crickets. They’ll also chase pillbugs and centipedes, but those are kinda fast and if they don’t catch them, you might have to. 🙂 Now that we’re getting some rains, they’ll be ready for some small worms in another couple weeks… it’s great fun for the chickens, although the worms don’t enjoy it (I always feel bad for the worm).

    • Erin D.

      They’re having fun chasing down mosquitoes and flies – and catching them right out of the air. I really really need to get the coop built, because they’re making nest-shaped things in the doghouse. Miss you!

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