Last week we were on tenterhooks – would Bella accept her adopted chicks?
She seemed initially stunned by the peeping fluff balls that had materialized beneath her. They knew what to do, stay close to mom, but did she? By mid-morning, I had my answer. I peeked in the coop and watched as the little Ameraucana chick peered up at Bella and then proceeded to grab her lower eyelid in its beak – and pull! Vigorously! Ouch!
I held my breath. Moment of truth. And Bella’s response? She did – absolutely nothing! I knew then that we were home free. The chicks view her as a giant, fluffy jungle gym and climb over, under and around her with glee. She clucks and calls them to her. She goes nowhere they cannot go and keeps them always within her sight. She is a wonderful mother.
The happy trio spent a week up on the nesting counter. “What’s this?” wondered the other hens.
Nugget came close for a peek:
Pippa spent most of a day watching the little family from her “bucket seat” on the wall opposite the nesting counter:
Bella quickly began showing the chicks how and where to peck to find treats.
She seems to understand that I mean her and the chicks no harm. She encourages them to eat treats from my hand:
Then we put her trust to the test two days ago when we scooped the chicks into a shoe box and moved the little family from the counter to the floor. She paced and squawked but quickly gathered her chicks beneath her. The other hens have shown only mild curiosity and, thankfully, have left Bella and her chicks alone.
Soon, she was taking them on forays from the coop to the outdoor pen:
I found them there this morning, where, in the early morning sunlight, Bella was teaching the chicks to catch bugs:
For the third time, we appear to have been charmed with a successful broody adoption. We’ll still keep a close eye on them all – mostly to make sure the other hens keep their distance – but Bella’s got this covered. Fairy-tale ending!