chooks.pngIt’s time to talk turkey …. well, at least, try chicken chatter.
As a chook owner it’s important to understand your chicken’s different vocabulary. Or so I found out this morning. If you aren’t fluent in chicken as a second language and you own some chooks, then I suggest you find out soon. It could be the difference between life and death. Really!

Now you might be tempted to think that I’m having a laugh, or worse, going slightly mad, but even researchers are saying that the humble chook has a language understood by the entire flock. Scientists at Macquarie Uni have discovered that chooks talk to each other regularly.I was fascinated thinking about what they might say … “Hey Henny Penny, why did Millie cross the road?”

Apparently chooks know more about twitter than we all do. They’re not the dumb chicks that the rest of the world makes them out to be. In fact, the research shows that they are actually quite intelligent. As a flock they look out for each other and give the rest of the birds a notification of food or a warning of any predators.

I saw this in a very real way this morning. I’ve told the rest of my family that my “girls” talk to me but they just roll their eyes in that “oh Mum, get a life” kind of way. But my Chicken-as-a-second-language saved my girls early in the morning when I heard an unusual, startled kind of shriek that I hadn’t heard before. It was different from their usual “It’s time to get out of bed and feed us” kind of call around day-break.

I hurriedly went downstairs and once outside I saw a bird of prey fly from behind the trampoline and onto the neighbour’s TV antenna. Now I should explain that I’m not on a farm, but a suburban residential block in Sydney. I’ve never seen this sort of visitor in my garden before and after a bit of a google search I discovered it was possibly a small falcon.

After scaring the unwanted visitor away, I rallied the girls together only to find one missing! Oh no! All I could think of was “A dingo’s got my baby”. Some awful thoughts of a half mauled chook lying in the next door neighbour’s yard filled my mind as I immediately went into panic mode. It was only 6:30am and still too early to knock on their door to see if they had half a chook in the backyard.

I waited patiently for the time to tick by and decided that I really should get changed out of my pyjamas if the neighbours were to take me seriously. Then I thought I’d take one final look around the yard again just in case. Lucky I did … my poor chook was huddled in amongst the arum lilies around our pool … head tucked away, too afraid to face the world. I headed her over to the normal enclosure that she’d escaped from but she insisted on going back via the most direct route – straight through the pool fence. Now there was quite a kerfuffle as she squeezed herself through the too-tight fence rails, kicking and squarking with feathers flying everywhere in the process. I’m sure it was about now she was thinking to herself that Jenny Craig might have been a good option instead of having that extra helping of sunflower seeds every day to keep the feathers shiny.

This chicken is the runt of the litter who is normally picked on by the rest of her flock. But this time it was nice to see Mother Hen (who usually is the biggest bossy boots) come over and rescue our desperate terrified chook and take her back over to the flock hiding together near their coop.

It was a close call for my backyard flock this time, but lucky I recognised their distress call when I did. Would you know when your chooks are calling for your help?

If you want to know more or even learn Chicken-as-a-second-language yourself then check out this link. It’s got it all there.