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Special Mothers

Sunday, The Rooster and Gracie, The Hen

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 Tibbett

Sunday and Alison

Sunday and Allison
Photo by Melody Ann Wall
Alison and Sunday in the garage, ready for sleep.

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