Graham : I had an interesting observance here recently. I usually work on the premise that whatever happens to come my way, be it detrimental or beneficial, has undoubtedly happened to thousands of others also, so you may have heard this all before. I hope you enjoy reading about my new little companion.
The only hen here now has prepared a hollow in the straw in the nestbox in the brand new chicken coop I have installed for her & her rooster friend. It is a far cry from the disgusting first coop I built 30 or more years ago. Here, there is light, cleanliness, ease of perch access, food, water & sawdust I can scrape out with a home-made rake with ease, to keep it spotless. There is even diatomaceous earth sprinkled under the straw in the boxes & beneath the sawdust on the floor all around the edges under the sawdust, to help control fowl mites, tics & fleas.
She & Birdie the rooster must be very pleased with their new home, now they have a view. At dusk when I go down the rear of the section to check on & top up rat poison, they chatter away through the netting to me.
The attractive young little rooster we picked up on a farm out in the plains a year back, is a most curious animal. It has no animosity to me at all; unlike roosters past which liked to dominate everything and attack when one’s back is turned. Birdie did mimic a magpie & german owl for a while, but as they are not frequent at our place, he soon ceased.
He has become very friendly & interested in what happens around here. I think all this has come about (apart from him having a very pleasant little personality) from being able to wander freely for most of the time & come over to me to investigate my ‘doings’. (He was living in crowded conditions in a large, low, netting cage with other fowls.) I talk to him often & stop occasionally to give him small-bird seed & sunflower seeds also & he enjoys investigating the inner rear garage whether I am in there working, or not. Most of all, both birds enjoy me breaking up a walnut for them.
The noises he makes, are what alert me to his efforts to communicate. Mostly there is an urgent distinct short ‘chit chit’ & frequent cocking-of-the-head glances in my direction, asking me to share in the ‘news’. This is the same communicative noise roosters give to hens when inviting them over to where they have discovered some tasty morsel & wish to give them ‘first taste’.
This was confirmed today, as he was going on at some determined length before I dropped what I was doing & ventured over to see what was on offing. He was walking around the edge of a shallow depression in the earth, (sand, here at our place) picking up any tiny stick or bit of rubbish that was already on the ground & dropping them, all the time periodically cocking his head & looking up at me. He was telling me something to do with nesting, I’m sure.
Upon inspection in the new coop 80 feet away down the rear of the section, I found the hen sitting in the prepared hollow in the straw. I think there may be an egg in there today regardless of this cooler time of year. Her last egg was 4 weeks back. After checking much later in the day, I see yes, there is an egg! I’ve got to get to know this curious rooster better.
Two days later…
The same procedure of walking around the edge of a separate shallow depression & chattering occurred today & another egg laid. This makes me wonder quite what I have missed over the decades, simply because I was perhaps not listening & observing well enough.
Something else I found out :- I discovered the netting I had put up on one side of the coop on the floor-to-ceiling doors, was difficult to see past, so I painted both sides black & now the two occupants inside have a view not possible before. Also, painting the outside allows me to see them siting on the perches whereas before it was nigh impossible. Tricks to the eyes. Just like light & dark painted trellis work atop fences.
Christchurch, New Zealand.