I opened the coop door yesterday morning to discover that Hope was up on the nesting box counter all alone, tearing up everything in sight and complaining loudly. She seemed – well – hormonal, to say the least. I closed the door and left her to her tantrum, hoping it might result in an egg. No such luck, but there is definitely something going on with Hope.
After I cleaned up the coop, she went right back up to the nesting counter and started tearing things up again. Moreover, I think I observed the “squatting” behavior that presages egg-laying. When newbie chickenkeepers like myself ask the pros when our chickens will lay, their first question will be “is the comb and wattle developed and turning redder?”. The second question will be “Is she squatting?”
Because Hope seemed so agitated, I instinctively reached out to pet her. The girls usually don’t like being pet all that much – they flap away as quickly as they can. But yesterday was different. Instead of moving away from me, Hope stood still and lowered her body as I pet her. I’m pretty sure this is what constitutes the “squatting” behavior I’ve heard so much about.
We’ve been more or less resigned to the likelihood that the girls might start laying while we’re away on our trip, but now I’m hopeful that we might see an egg or two before we go. Anyone want to start a pool?
In other news, Taylor and I were baking the CE’s annual birthday carrot cake yesterday afternoon when we heard a ruckus outside. At least a hundred crows had congregated on our front lawn and were cawing loudly. Most of them dispersed when I opened the door, but I did manage to get these pictures:
Why the crow convention? Perhaps a protest against my interchangeable use of “crow” and “raven”. As www.wisegeek.com explains, “all ravens are crows, but crows can be ravens, jays, or magpies.” A raven is significantly larger than a crow, averaging 25″ tall to a crow’s 18″. There is also a color differentiation: according to WiseGeek, “A raven’s feathers shine with a blue or purple tint when the sun hits them. Crows can fluff their feathers into a mane to show off, while a raven’s individual feathers are larger and pointier. Finally, if you see the bird with its tail spread, a crow’s tail curves evenly like a seashell while the tail of a raven meets at a triangular point.” (Jessica, I hope this makes you happy!)
I suppose it’s possible that the crows are gathering to plot an overthrow of our Chicken Kingdom, but more likely it is a typical autumn ritual of flock re-grouping. According to www.extension.org, “One important and spectacular aspect of crow behavior is their congregation into huge flocks in fall and winter. Large flocks are the result of many small flocks gradually assembling as the season progresses, with the largest concentration occurring in late winter.” One of the largest communal roost sites in the country is at Ft. Cobb, Oklahoma, where several MILLION crows congregate each winter.
No crows in sight this morning; perhaps they’ve re-grouped and moved on. No eggs in sight, either. I’ve got my hopes set on Hope setting soon, but then there is that old yolk about not counting things before they’re hatched…