Something I Forgot to Mention: Bird Sadness!

It looks like I will have to change the banner picture for Coop de Kitchen. Sadly, while I was away, we lost two of our hens. Butch, our black & white barred-Plymouth Rock hen, was killed by an unknown predator. Margaret found her dead the following morning underneath a bush, opposite the yard from the coop (having missed the absence because she came home from work after sunset, the night before). The other birds were safe in their hen house, and Margaret didn’t think they witnessed Butch’s demise. About a week later, without any apparent reason, Penny dropped dead. There was no sign of injury or anything of that sort. The only clue was that she was wandering about in a strange manner the day before, while Margaret was putting the hens into their coop for the night. The next morning, Penny was dead in the hen house.

We have no good explanation for Penny’s death–except for one strange hunch. Explanation: Among the four hens, Butch was the alpha hen at the top of the pecking order. Wherever she went, the others followed. If there was food to be found, Butch was always there first. Nonetheless, there was a subtle division in the flock between the Ameraucanas, Edie and Henny, and the odd two of Butch and Penny (Rhode Island Red). Birds of a feather flock together, as it has been said.

Anyway, it was clear that Butch and Penny were “running mates.” Anytime Margaret happened to forget to close the back door to the garage, one could expect that Butch, with Penny close behind, would wander through and into the kitchen. To their delight, they quickly discovered the cat food. The first time, it didn’t take much for Margaret to shoo them back outside. The second time, all Butch did was eat faster. In these forays, it was only Penny who was partner-in-crime. The Ameraucana sisters were usually absent.

I think, at this point, my drift should be fairly obvious: We have this odd feeling that Penny might have died from some kind of “broken flock” syndrome. At first, the rest of the birds seemed a bit rudderless without Butch, the alpha hen. After a while, it seemed as if they were beginning to make it on their own. However, it would be safe to suggest that Edie and Henny always had their own routine. Though fairly docile, Penny was always kind of high-strung. It wouldn’t surprise me if she came to find herself as being alone without Butch–which can be a devastating thing for a bird as social as a chicken. Most sellers of chicks will sell no less than two for that very same reason. So, in a sense, it might be possible that Penny died of a broken heart. Very sad, indeed!


About magdave

Two people passionate about the slow life of creating tasty food in our little kitchen, with the help of our greenhouse, the garden patches
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2 Responses to Something I Forgot to Mention: Bird Sadness!

  1. Karen H says:

    I’m sorry to hear this, Dave. Are you going to get more chickens to replace Penny and Butch? I have to say I would miss your reports of your chickens. Also, I can hardly wait until you post your recipe!

    By the way, though it is quite a long way to go (both for me and for you), Derek has managed to bring home some lovely loaves of bread from a French bakery (called, appropriately, “French Bakery”) near Google in Kirkland. The address is 219 Kirkland Ave # 102 Kirkland, WA 98033-6785, so you can look it up on Google Maps. He recently brought home a crusty round of bread that was large-crumbed and porous and chewy in the inside, as well as a regular light wheat bread (whole and white mixed), and a crusty “marble” white and dark rye loaf. We did not have any of the wheat, but both the marbled loaf and the crusty white were marvelous. The owners are French (Frederic Courteau and I believe his wife), and they own this little boulangerie, which also serves pastries and sandwiches in the European style. They also serve north Italian coffee (espressos and lattes), as apparently even the owners reluctantly admit that north Italian coffee is better than French. Anyway, Derek was raving about this place, and so I asked him to bring back some loaves, and they certainly lived up to his rave. I have been searching for bread like this ever since we came back from Germany. Anyway, if you have a free morning and don’t mind the trek, check it out!

    • magdave says:

      We do plan on getting more chickens. The main impediment is our need for a larger run enclosure, preparing level ground for it, and hoping for a good stretch of good weather.

      Can’t say if/when we might get to Kirkland, though. I’ll be sure to Google the bakery, nonetheless, as Margaret does have a brother who lives at the northern end of Kirkland. Might find an excuse.

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