The term “pecking order” was, after all, coined to describe hierarchical behaviour in poultry, so it should come as no surprise that the term has come to have new meaning to me since we got the four chickens. By the way, we have Thorleif Schjelderup-Ebbe to thank for the descriptive phrase – he introduced it back in 1921 in German as Hackordnung or Hackliste and it was introduced into the English language in 1925.
But just as when siblings compete for the last piece of pie or first turn at Monopoly, it’s a bit wearying to watch the four girls haggle over the perceived “best” this or that. Their latest competition is over the “best” nesting spot. They have an entire counter, but apparently only one spot will do, because yesterday I had to forcibly remove Amelia from trying to usurp Autumn’s laying spot. I gave her the boot (no small feat with a chicken the size of a bowling ball!) three different times, only to find this when I returned:
They both laid eggs – we got four yesterday!
Amelia sees herself as chief chicken, mostly based on her size and her willingness to use it to advantage. Autumn may be lowest in the pecking order – depending on the day, it would be either her or Hope – so it’s interesting to note that the two that are the most curious and friendliest to humans are seen as lowest on the poultry totem pole.
I suppose it’s not the first time that being the best and the brightest lands you outside the “mean girls” clique…