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separation anxiety

Besides their early morning demands to be released from their coop, my hens are pretty quiet. With one big exception. Whenever Cleo (our red hen) goes up in the nesting box to lay her egg, Gloria comes over to our window and squawks like MAD. It always scares me a bit at first, like something has come into the yard and is attacking her. It’s THAT loud. Cleo, on the other hand, never does this when Gloria lays her egg, and I wonder why. I’m pretty sure that they have established Gloria as the leader of the duo, based on my observations of their friendly face-offs as pullets. I’ve never seen them peck at each other, they are the best of friends, but there were a few weeks that they would arch their necks and get beak to beak until one of them backed down (Is this why they call that game where you race head on at your opponent, until someone veers: “chicken”?) Almost every time, it was Cleo that veered. And it seems to be Cleo that generally follows Gloria around. So what’s the deal with Gloria’s squawking episodes? Is she lonely? Is she trying to tell us that Cleo has abandoned her? Is not submitting to her leadership? Needs protection? I’ve also heard that hens will often squawk after laying an egg… to show off? Mine don’t do this, so maybe Gloria is taking it upon herself to show off for Cleo? She is, after all, an exceptional egg layer, even providing us with easy-to-peel fresh hard-boiled eggs.



6 thoughts on “separation anxiety

  1. Interesting. My chickens pretty much ignore it when another hen is laying UNLESS they want to lay as well. We have 4 next boxes but obviously there is really only 1 best spot to lay. They generally each go in as the mood strikes and do their business in peace. If one is there and another one feels the call of nature, the 2nd hen will generally stand in the coop under the nest box and squawk like mad. It is the same sound they make after laying (mine do that often, but not always). I figure they are trying to rush the other one along. Whether it’s encouragement or vile threats is anyone’s guess.

    What they don’t do is scream at me (thank goodness). It seems you have a tattle-tale in your flock.

    • Maybe you are right. That actually makes sense, because oftentimes I will tell her to be quiet, and she will. It’s like she’s satisfied that her complaints have been heard. Also, my kids are big tattle-tells, so it shouldn’t surprise me that my other ‘kids’ are too. šŸ˜‰

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