These illuminating stories were sent to UPC by two of our
California members, Valerie Tibbett and Melody Wall.
Three chicks joined us and it was wonderful to watch
them receive such loving help to grow and learn from their
mother, Maxine, and their aunties. What was startling, however,
was the way my polish hen, Gracie, responded to Beulah, Viola,
and Dorothy Lee.
Gracie has always been something of a bully. She always
wants to be first to eat and chases the other girls away when
their food is first put out. She will go up to another hen who is
not behaving as she sees fit, stretch her wing way out and do a
sort of voodoo rattle thing with it to show her displeasure. Much
to my surprise, her entire nature changed when the chicks were
born. She became a co-mother with Maxine, and the two mothers and
three babies were inseparable. Here's Gracie, who ordinarily
won't let anyone else eat when she's around, and all of a sudden
she's picking up morsels of food and making these wonderful
"cluck, cluck, cluck, chook, chook, chook" sounds which the
babies respond to, running up to snatch a morsel from her beak.
Or else she puts it down right in front of them. What a change!
Gracie, the former "bully," now uses her physical presence to
protect Beulah, Viola and Dorothy Lee, and stands aside while the
youngsters run and take the best pieces for themselves!
That includes apples, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, lettuce,
pasta, rice, and thanksgiving dressing, plus every new shoot that
comes up in our yard. What do I care? They give me such joy, I
figure, "If they eat my plants it's a fair exchange." --Valerie
Sunday and Alison
Our area has many "wild" peafowl (really
they are quite tame). Unfortunately, my cat got one of the
babies. She was unhurt, but was now an orphan. I drove around and
found her family, but the mother kept running away and the baby
would charge to the nearest bush. Clearly this reunion was not
going to happen.
So I brought the little one I named Alison home to my hens,
but again, no luck. Then I noticed Sunday, our rescued rooster,
watching. I thought, "With Sunday's crossed beak [a birth
deformity], he can't hurt the little peahen, so I'll put them
together." As it got dark, the baby peahen crawled under Sunday's
wing, and Sunday didn't move away. That was the beginning.
Sunday, the rooster, became a devoted mother hen. Every night he
got into his "mother hen" posture and waited for his baby to
settle in. Then he gently lay down and off to sleepy land they
went. As you can tell, I spied on them!
When they dustbathed together it was quite comical since
Sunday is rather big and the baby peahen was very, very small.
Did they kick up the dust! Alison followed Sunday everywhere. She
dearly loved that big rooster. --Melody Ann Wall
photo by Melody Ann Wall|
Alison and Sunday in the garage, ready for sleep.
(click for bigger version)