Birds of a Feather…

… roost together.


Although it might look, during the day, as if your hens are all milling about together, getting along fine, in truth they form bonds according to breed. This is very obvious at night when they settle in to roost.

We aren’t surprised to see wild birds flock. Geese migrate in V’s. Blackbirds fill trees in the fall. Pigeons line up on telephone lines. But, when it comes to our own chickens, well, they’re all chickens. And they’re part of our backyard community. And we think they should all be friends. But, they haven’t lost the instinct to be in a flock. I don’t know if a hen is aware of what she, herself, looks like, but she does recognize others that look like her, and she wants to be with them.

What about the hens that don’t have look-alike buddies?

Lulu would like a best friend. She’s tried to be friends with Buffy, but not only don’t their feathers match, but neither do their personalities. Lulu is a busy, active, crazy-sort of hen. Buffy is a settled, older, quiet girl. Buffy tries to be polite to Lulu, but you can tell she wishes that Lulu would just go away.

At night, Buffy, content to be on her own, settles into a nesting box. Lulu sleeps in the one next to her. But, even in this photo, you can see how mismatched they are.

lulu & buffy

Of all of the hens, Lulu has shown the most interest in the goats. Lulu thinks it’s too bad that they don’t have feathers. Or roost.


  1. Terry – My daughters and I loved this post. We got Tillie Lays an Egg from the Maplewood NJ library (highly recommended, and they tell patron all about your web cam) and the kids fell in love with your hens, who they now recognize by name. What they have loved the most is learning about the personalities and preferences of your chickens. So with this post, we got to talk about how it is sometimes more comfortable to spend time with people who look like you (like the chickens) but that if you did what was easy or safe, you would miss out on all the other wonderful chickens. Thanks so much for sharing your farm with us, and for taking the time to post. Karen

    • Karen- thanks for getting it – and sharing with your daughters! It’s all a writer can hope for :) I’ve posted a “hello” message to your library to thank them for telling patrons about Tillie!

  2. Terry, I love reading your post. I have you bookmarked as a favorite. This past spring we built our coop and now have 7 hens……….whom I am growing to love more daily.
    Was wondering if there is a certain breed that is more aggressive than others or is this just per chance. We have a Rhode Island Red that we have dubbed as the “Boss”. Have you seen a pattern concerning who’s boss??
    Thanks for your blog and your time.

    • Yes, I do think that some breeds are more aggressive than others. I also think that since many lines of purebred poultry are inbred, that there are some strains with issues. After all, breeders are selecting for looks, not temperament. I’ve had problems with Wyandottes, although a friend in England says that hers are gentle birds. Everyone with Barred Rocks tells of aggression to other breeds – but I think this goes along with their nature – they’re good, active foragers and voracious eaters. The Orpingtons tend to be very gentle birds. Americaunas stand-offish.

  3. This is so true! My two Plymouth Rocks are best buddies as are my two Light Sussex bantams.
    The exception to the rule are my two odd-ones-out; I have a Pekin bantam and an Old English Game bantam, who are also best buddies. They go everywhere together! But at night time, Pepsi (the Old English) who is really tiny compared to the others, likes to wait until all the others are roosting, then sneak in between any two of the bigger girls. I wonder if this is to do with her being hard-feathered while the others are all soft?

  4. Lovely post Terry – and so very true.

    Found my two Cuckoo Marans snuggled up together in a nest box this morning, they waited until both had done their eggs and had a little rest, then came down the ramp together :-)

    My three “Spice Girls” stick together too – I can endorse that a hybrid mix of Plymouth Rock/Aracauna/Leghorn is a sparky mix! Not for the novice hen-keeper, they run rings round the older hens and me! But they are soooo pretty and lay pastel blue/green eggs – so all is forgiven!

    The photo of the roost is fabulous!