Siouxsie died this morning. I found her on the floor of the coop. The other hens ignored her body, which is how they usually react when one of them passes on. I was not surprised to find her dead. Actually, I’d expected to find her gone well before now. For a year she’s had stretches of labored breathing. She was a regular layer of medium-sized white eggs, but she often looked stressed before laying. Yesterday I noticed her flagging her tail in discomfort and gasping. But, she continued to move about and eat, and at night she roosted with the rest of the flock.

If her distress was new I would have given her an epsom salt soak. But, I’ve already applied my Spa Treatment to her a number of times. If a hen doesn’t perk up and stay recovered afterwards, then there is likely a serious underlying condition. I don’t believe in prolonging the lives of hens who are diseased. I’ve learned how to do necropsies. I’ve opened up enough birds to know that they can live a long time with horrible ailments and are likely suffering for longer than we realize.

This afternoon I did a necropsy on Siouxsie. As always, what I found inside was unexpected. She was the first older hen (Siouxsie was four and that counts as aged) that I’ve examined that was not tumorous. She was also the first with a functioning ovary with developing yolks. She had an egg, fully formed with the shell, halfway down her reproductive tract. Yesterday she tried to lay it, but could not. Did that make her “egg bound?” The assumption is that an egg bound hen has a stuck egg, and with help (massage, bath, oil, poking with a finger) it will come out and all will be fine. I think that those assumptions are usually far from the truth, and doing the necropsy confirmed my belief that there was much wrong inside of Siouxsie, and that it was a kindness to let her pass on.

The first thing that I found inside of Siouxsie was a thick layer of yellow fat on her right side. When a chicken has an uneven distribution of fat, then something is wrong with her metabolism. The fat, itself, will cause laying difficulty as it takes up space needed for the egg to move easily through the reproductive tract. Worse yet for Siouxsie, was what I found on her left side. There was a mass that looked like two white water balloons fused together, which were filled with what looked like yellow custard. It was the size of her drumstick and taking up precious space inside of her body cavity.

I’ve seen similar masses before, although none exactly like the one in Siouxsie. The reproductive tract is not a closed system. There is a gap between the ovary and the long tube that the forming egg moves through. When a yolk is released from the ovary, it must be caught by the infandibulum to begin its journey and development. If the egg material misses the entrance to tthe tract, you have what is called an internal layer. I’ve seen the body cavity filled with solidified yolks, with jelled whites, and with infected fluids. Siouxsie’s mass wasn’t anchored to anything, and it hadn’t broken up and caused peritonitis (infection of the bodily fluids) and so she must have survived for awhile with discomfort, but without it totally obstructing her bodily functions. Perhaps the mass shifted. Perhaps combined with the body fat there was no way an egg could pass. Perhaps it was something else. My necropsies are crude – I don’t sent tissue samples to a lab and I am still learning to identify disease. In any event, what is clear is that it is a good thing that she passed peacefully away today and did not seem to suffer.

Siouxsie was an infuriating bird. She had no chicken sense, no sense whatever, really, not even a sense of direction. She was the only hen who didn’t come when called. She attacked other hens and had no sense about when to back down from a fight, or even have any sense of why she was fighting in the first place. While the other hens kept their external parasites at bay with dust baths and grooming, Siouxsie needed applications of louse powder. She didn’t know enough to come in from freezing rain. Her top knot needed trimming in order to keep her dry, and so that she could see where she was going. Infuriating. Sometimes, though, the most ridiculous characters are the most fun to have around. She will be missed. But, no, I will not be getting another Polish for the flock.



  1. I find that I am getting so attached to your hens just form reading your blog and watching the cams daily! My heart just breaks that Siouxsie has passed. I really enjoyed watching her on camera. She really had quite a personality, even if she had no sense. I am sorry for your loss.


  2. So sorry. I’ve come to know her over the last few years. She is easy to pick out on the camera and her ditzy hair-do was a favorite with the kids.

  3. I am so sorry for the loss of one of your glorious ladies. In time, you should find another Polish. She apparently was a source of great amusement.

  4. I will miss that silly glamour girl. Thanks for sharing the necropsy results, Terry.

  5. I have to admit that Siouxsie and Tina were a big attraction when I first found your site. Over time you have taught me to appreciate the more subtle birds, but I will miss Siouxsie’s frazzled high maintenance flamboyance. You gave her a good, good life.

    • I agree, Tina and Siouxsie were early favorites for me, too. I was very sad when I learned that Siouxsie, and Edwina, were bullies, and Buffy was suffering. Glad you exiled them to a group that could deal with them. And it’s wonderful to see Buffy thriving again!

  6. Even with all the experience you have raising chickens, it must still give you a jolt when you discover a dead hen. I understand your feelings of not adding another Polish breed to any future flocks you might have. I have already found myself deleting some of the breeds I have for various reasons. It is a very personal thing that only the chicken keeper gets to decide.

  7. I was so very sorry to hear about Siouxsie. I will miss her. For a breed that looks so fragile and decorative she must have been very tough and brave to deal with all that was going on with her. Thanks for telling us about the necropsy. Wonderful that you can do that and help get answers for us, too, who care about all your animals.
    I am sure you’ll find just the right resting place for her. Love to Siouxsie.

  8. Hi Terry, thanks for that info! Do you think Polish hens have silly and infuriating personalities in general? Or was she unique in most ways? I wonder if you have any videos anywhere of you performing a necropsy or could you direct me to someone who does have a helpful video on such a procedure?

  9. Siouxsie, may you rest in peace. Terry, so sorry for your loss. But may I say, the new camera sure makes Buffy look so BEAUTIFUL!

  10. I am very sorry Terry. I loved your Siouxsie. I have 2 silver laced Polish hens and they are just as you described – nuts. My first Polish hen, Contessa, is my favorite. Partly because she is so adorable to look at and partly because she livens things up. She is very friendly to me and follows me around, and is not aggressive with the flock. Just a true individual. When I go out after dark to lock the coop, there is no telling where Contessa may be roosting. Sometimes she is in with the other girls. Much of the time I have to find her, (with a flashlight) then rescue her. She may be atop the netting that covers the run, or on the deck rails, or on the roof of the coop. She seems to have her own ideas about how things should work. As you said, the most ridiculous characters can be the most fun to have around. RIP Siouxsie. Sending you a hug.

  11. Sorry to hear about Siouxsie. I always enjoyed hearing about her antics. I miss my blue and white Poland who was just as ditsy. She was 5years old, still laying but got taken by Mr Fox to feed his family this spring.

  12. I’ll miss that crazy bird! She and Tina were fun to watch and easy to spot…even across the yard! It is hard to imagine that they can live fairly normally with all that going on inside of their bodies. Rest in peace, Siouxsie.

    • I am going to miss that nutty bird! Little Pond Farm was the perfect place for her: for only there could she have found such a wonderful Flock Mistress and patient, forgiving, hens. I’ll admit to spending far too many hours watching her, especially while she was working out her new roosting position amongst the Gems. That crazy puffy feathered-do of hers made her easy to spot in the darkening barn as she circled the roost, hopped on, hopped higher, and then with deft aplomb was sent to the barn floor by a Gem. To be repeated over and over until a Gem finally relented. Such good hens. Reality TV holds no candle to the likes of the Little Pond critters. Thank you Terry for sharing them with us. Adieu Siouxsie.

  13. Am saddened by the loss of Siouxsie. I’m sure a sad time at Little Pond. She was another character that had a good storyline. In the end, the underdog. Seems I’m always on their side. She stood on her own with the Gems which made me think she had spirit. Watching what you had to go through with her, made me sure, I never wanted a polish personally. I just don’t think I would have the patience. So glad others love the hen and make room for them in their flock. I dreaded the day when you announced one was gone. Wishing blessings your way.

  14. Sorry to hear Siouxie is gone, sometimes the animals who drive you the most crazy are the ones you learn the most from. For me it was a chow mix rescue dog. And miss more than you ever thought you would!

  15. I’ll miss her. A flock always needs a couple of comic characters and Siouxsie and Tina were it. I expect she missed Tina and who knows, they might be together again now.

  16. Sad news about Siouxsie. She marched to a different tune, it made perfectly good sense to her. I will miss seeing her fabulous coiffure . March on Siouxsie.

  17. I lost a real nice RH Red that same day. She was filled with tumors..she was one of my original birds and I just loved her because she was old. Hugs to you Terry.

  18. So sorry to hear about Siouxsie. I learned so much from her and Tina (including the fact that my future flock will never contain a Polish, regardless of how beautiful and entertaining they are). Like everyone else, I will really miss seeing her puttering about. Like Kate, I’ll miss looking for her little white pouf on the darkening roost. Hearing about her adventures has been priceless. Big hugs, Terry. I am so sorry for your loss.

  19. I’m sorry. I enjoyed watching Siouxsie daily. She’ll definitely be missed.

  20. So sorry about Siouxsie! Polish are a unique breed, but don’t write them off, if you are reading this and have not experienced having a couple! I have 2 that are 1 1/2 yr.old’s. Laverne (black and white, like Siouxsie), and Shirley
    (a golden, which is a brown and black). Laverne looks more like a boy, with a double comb, and 2 horn-like things, on her head. She lays a small white egg, almost daily. She will peck you when on the nest, but is easily caught or petted, any other time! Shirley was the underdog, picked on for her first year, so I carried her around a lot! She only lays little wind eggs, when she can. She has to be carried out of the garage, where she is always exploring! She is the friendliest chicken, but does not know she is one! You can pick her up, anywhere, and anytime! I used to call her the invalid, but I just love her! Last week my Grand-daughter and I were frightened by seeing what looked like a dead chicken laying on the hot asphalt of our driveway. We were running towards it,saying,”Oh No, it’s Shirley!” About 6′ away from reaching her, with her legs stretched out, up popped Shirley’s head, as to say what are you so shook up about! She casually got up, and walked away! The pavement was so hot I could not put my hand on it! Terry has talked me through the spa treatment before, when I thought Shirley was dying. Shirley is just Shirley! What can I say?!!!!!!!!
    Happy memories of Siouxsie, she will be missed!

  21. I know Siouxsie wasn’t the favorite bird, and I had a hard time with what she did to Buffy, but I did watch her every day as she stayed by the Brody hen ann worried she had given herself a hard life due to that move… I know you watched over her to make sure she didn’t miss out in outings and food… She had a good life.

    But I will still miss that bird,even after all of the disfunction she had. I watched for her in the mornings, and on the rails at night, and even from a distance that fuzzy head on the high Rez camera showed up…

    Glad to know she didn’t suffer, but she will be missed.

  22. So sorry about your loss, Terry. The little beastie will be missed. The amount of information you manage to share on your blog is astounding. Never know when it will come in handy. Thank you.

  23. Terry, It’s always a little sad loosing one of the Girls…. Did you take a class on how to perform a necropsy or was it self taught?

  24. sorry about siouxie – just getting to know her and will now watch for edwina. could you knit a little cap for her? that way she’ll be easier to pick out – like siouxie!

  25. So sorry about Siouxie. I love your hen cam and watch every day. RIP Siouxie.

  26. RIP….comfort in knowing you gave her a good quality of life

  27. RIP….comfort in knowing you gave her a good quality of life…

  28. The last paragraph made me laugh. I don’t know if it’s the fact they can’t see for all the feathers or too much inbreeding but Polish definitely dance to the beat of a different drummer.

  29. All we can do is give them the best life possible. One of my 4-year-old Barred Rocks died on Sunday morning and it wasn’t unexpected. When I picked her up over a week ago, she felt like feathers and bones. I took care of her for a week and then she reached her end. And life in the coop continues because as you said, the others don’t care.

  30. Dear Siouxie, You certainly gave us and the denizens of
    Little Pond Farm a splash of vivid non-conformity!
    ~ ~ ~ Requiescat in Pace ~ ~ ~

  31. Off the subject Terry! But WHERE is the “Cwazy Wabbit”? I can NEVER find her! Is she in “the hole”??????

    • She has a favorite napping spot just off camera inside of the coop. She sprawls out by the screen door on the concrete. Cool with a breeze. No fool, that bunny.

  32. I will miss seeing her topnot, she was so quirky, R.I.P. Siouxsie xxx

  33. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. As much of a diva as Siouxsie was, we wouldn’t have the ridiculous tales of her silliness to chuckle at if she wasn’t allowed to be her ditzy self. So thank you, Terry, for going the extra mile as we all do for our beloved pets, even when they drive us crazy. It’s these crazies we remember as fondly as our favorites because they make life more interesting.

  34. Sorry for your loss, Terry. I know that she was infuriating and high-maintenance, but still, she was a part of your life for quite a while, and although you had been expecting it, I imagine it was a sad event for you.
    Adieu, Siouxie. Looks like you are missed by a large following of quirky hen lovers.

  35. She had a good life with you. I’ll miss her fluffy ‘do’. May she rest in peace now, and be with Tina.
    Thank you for sharing all of your necropsy information with us, Terry.

  36. She was a crazy and brainless chicken whose’s head was filled with nothing by feathers. But she was a joy to see walking around the hen yard. She will be missed. And I take it you won’t be taxiderming her body to turn those beautiful feathers into a hat or hair ornaments either Terry ? I would have loved a Polish hen hat.

  37. I love it a “Polish Hen Hat”… that’s what I’m talkin about!!! Invite me to the “Hen Party”!

  38. Oh shucks. I was fond of that wig-hat hen, in spite of everything.

  39. I appreciate your descriptions of what you find upon doing the necropsy. Fascinating. Over the five years we’ve kept chickens, hens and roosters, a number have died of diseases with various symptoms but we have never done a necropsy and we don’t know what they died of. (I don’t think I’d be able to bring myself to do one.) Many of our sick chickens have recovered with some preferential treatment e.g. the spa, special diet, time out in the “IC” unit, which is typically spent in a large cage in our garage, and meds that we think will help but we never know if they do help. Knowing how to treat a sick chicken and for how long is difficult. Some have been on death’s door and we’re certain they won’t live another hour yet today they are fit members of the flock. Others, often with similar symptoms to the recovered birds, will continue to sicken and die. It is amazing to me that some, with chronic injuries or some sort of impediment, do just fine for years while others seems so fragile and suddenly die. Thank you for the information and I’m sorry that Siouxsie passed on.

    • It is a mystery. Just look at Buffy for a hen who keeps on going. I’ve done 15 necropsies and although there have been some similarities, the insides and causes of death have all varied. External symptoms are very similar, though.

  40. I appreciate everyone’s comments, and realize that over the years I have missed out on many adjectives to describe my Polish. “Wig-hat” and “daft” among them.The group of Girls is full of characters. So, we’ll miss Siouxsie, but there’s still plenty of entertainment in my yard.

  41. Thanks for keeping this up a couple of days. I would have missed the news. I’m so sorry for Siouxsie’s passing. My memories of her are of poking around Candy’s hutch and being way up there on the roost before bedtime. She certainly stood out in the crowd. I could never do a necropsy, and admire you for that. My beautiful aftrican grey had a cage accident a couple weeks ago and died. You pick up the body and wonder at the beauty and the life and intelligence that was within, now evaporated, completely gone. She was a family member. I miss the greetings and the goodbyes she offered daily.

    • I am sorry to hear about your African Grey! It’s so hard to lose an animal that you expect to have for a lifetime, especially one with the brilliance of a Grey.

  42. I lost one of my 3 hens a couple of weeks ago. She was about 2 1/2 yrs old and had been a gentle hen, good layer. She had similar symptoms with the labored breathing and all her eggs were large. She was a large light Brahma, I named her Brahama Mama and I do miss her. Sorry about souixsie .

  43. I’ll miss you, Tina Turmer lookalike! RIP, sweetie.

  44. So sorry to hear of the passing of Siouxsie.

    She was so different from the other hens – both physically and mentally. Bless her!
    Glad she is not suffering now.

    RIP little Siouxsie.

  45. I will miss the antics of Siouxie. She was so pretty with her “Wig Hat on Her Head” and decidedly unusual personality.