They were of­ten to be found snooz­ing side-by-side un­der the bay tree A soli­tary chicken and a lonely duck find so­lace to­gether…

Your Chickens - - Contents -

The odd cou­ple

You prob­a­bly know of some un­likely an­i­mal friend­ships - a dog that be­friends a kit­ten, per­haps, or a lonely don­key strik­ing up a friend­ship with a sheep. An­i­mals that usu­ally live in a group will of­ten find a friend across the species di­vide if there is no-one of their own shape avail­able. Chick­ens, it turns out, are no ex­cep­tion.

This sum­mer two of my ducks were taken by a fox, leav­ing me with a sin­gle duck. As well as this, one of my hens, Beady, had raised a sin­gle chick. This chick was too young to join the rest of the flock, and when Beady aban­doned it was left alone with­out com­pan­ions. Be­fore long, Des­de­mona the soli­tary duck and Chintz the soli­tary chick be­came friends. This wasn’t al­ways easy, as Des­de­mona liked to spend her day bob­bing in the pond and preen­ing her feath­ers, while Chintz wanted to go look­ing for worms and bee­tles. De­spite their dif­fer­ences they hung around to­gether and were of­ten to be found snooz­ing side-by­side un­der the bay tree.

Prob­lems be­gan one day when I heard the stran­gled war­bling sound that could mean only one thing - one of my young birds was try­ing to crow. As the only young bird was Chintz, it was fairly clear who the cul­prit was. Chintz was a cock­erel. Now, while it is quite pos­si­ble for male and female friend­ships to work in the hu­man world, it’s a bit dif­fer­ent in the poul­try world. Sooner or later, Chintz was go­ing to start ha­rass­ing Des­de­mona in a way she def­i­nitely would not ap­pre­ci­ate. The end of a beau­ti­ful friend­ship was loom­ing, so I bought four ducks and three pul­lets from a lo­cal poul­try sale and waited to see what would hap­pen.

At first, Des­de­mona was pet­ri­fied of the new ducks, but af­ter a cou­ple of days she be­came fas­ci­nated by them and even­tu­ally joined their group. Poor Chintz fol­lowed Des­de­mona for­lornly for a few days be­fore giv­ing up and go­ing back to a soli­tary life­style. Be­fore long, how­ever, he teamed up with the young pul­lets (all about the same age as him). Peace and har­mony now reign as Des­de­mona en­joys the com­pany of the ducks and Chintz en­joys the com­pany of pul­lets. I like to think they can still be friends, though, de­spite their dif­fer­ences.

Chintz the chicken and Des­de­mona the duck be­came firm friends

Chintz ... back to a soli­tary life­style

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