Tag Archives: mating

These two are dating

These two guineas are dating.  Or bonded for life; I can’t tell what stage they are at.  Probably post-commitment ceremony somewhere on the continuum, maybe still honeymoon.   It’s been nearly two months.

Here they are running away from the paparazziand seen here jumping out of the bath after privacy invaded:

You wouldn’t know that these are the tamest guineas I’ve ever had and let me get quite close.  It’s been hard to get a picture of them together, although they are ALWAYS together.  They are never farther apart than a table for two, unless I walk between them, and they can wander pretty distantly from the other guineas (dates).  I haven’t noticed any of the others paired off yet.

It’s funny because when these guineas (Galahad-raised) were juveniles, they gave the white guineas such a hard time because they were different.  Bullying, rejecting –  I considered separating them.  But now, she’s exotic.

Chicken jackets

Now that the weather is cooling off, it’s time to put jackets on my chickens.  No!   That’s a joke.  A few of my hens need jackets because they’re molting or have their feathers damaged from mating.

Chicken aprons (so called because they look like an apron when they’re flat), or saddles (for the rooster to ride) are for protecting their backs while their feathers grow back.

Cheeks has bare raw patches on her shoulders from mating, but what can you do?  She doesn’t have to always  be with that rooster.I made a version with shoulder protectors.  So far so good.  There are much more elegant versions online, but I was going for an express solution. You didn’t care about how they would look?

The one that seems most comfortable in her jacket is this little Silkie.  I made a small one, and it fits her perfect.  She only needs it for her shoulders. For the most part they act like they’re barely aware of it. Least comfortable is Cleopatra. She’s aware of it.  First, she was hiding in the coop, then trying to fix her feathers.  What have you done to me? 

I was mistaken, she doesn’t need shoulder pads, so I will recycle the black fleece jacket, and she should be much happier in that.  I wanted to make her a black one anyway. I have a few more without shoulder pads to put on other birds tomorrow.

Bad chicken pick up lines

Jack, the former Oreo, is not popular with the ladies.  I was hopeful he’d be the next boss rooster, but he’s not turning out well.  First he mounted the hens backwards (cue hen eye-rolling).  Once he figured  out his directions, the hens indulged him for a while.  I hoped the daily rampage around the greenhouse first thing in the morning was a hormonal phase he’d grow out of.

Well, that’s over.  Most of the hens have cut him off.  I think this is hilarious.  Since it’s all done with body language, it’s strongly reminiscent of the pick-up scene in a bar.

The Brahmas are having none of him.  They meet his aggression with a solid un-intimidated square off.    Think again, punk!!!

Think you’re hot stuff?  I got a neck ruff too.  I can take you.  Peck me again, I dare ya!

They’re a tough audience.  How you doin!? 

I knew you when you were an egg.  Keep it moving.

Then he usually tries some conciliatory dancing. Dancing before mating is a desirable behaviour of roosters.  It signals to the hen his intentions and gives them time to decide, and respond.  It’s not a very impressive performance, objectively.  It entails fanning one wing, sort of dragging it and doing a quick pattering sidestep around or toward the intended.

Hey baby, I just think you’re hot, ya know, we got off on the wrong foot there, can we start over? 

And boy do they respond:

Too little too late, buckaroo.  Take your sweet moves elsewhere, you’re getting the laser glare!

(These are actually different hens, which makes it even funnier).  Now cowed, he’s going for the meek approach, the sidestep.  Hey Sugar.  You know I used to be really something. I was even twice voted Cock of the Walk, eh, eh?

Do I look impressed?  This is my impressed face.

Hey, if you’re not busy later, I thought maybe you and me could….

Talk to the beak.

….ok, ok, I get the picture, I’ll just…go get some corn.

The Brahmas just stare him down, hold their ground, flare ruffs or peck back, if it comes to that.  He never wins a glare down.

With the smaller, springier and quicker layer hens, I don’t get to capture the action, but it’s no less funny.  They jump in the air at him, stretch their necks tall and flash neck ruffs like lizards, and the rage just shoots from their eyes.  How DARE you!

Sometimes he’ll use his weight and sneak attack a layer hen, jumping on her while she’s busy eating, and then (hell hath no fury), she’ll bounce up and peck him, and squawk! and then chase HIM around the room shrieking in a froth of indignation.  Hilarious!  Like He just grabbed my butt!  Did you see that!?  The nerve!  And don’t show your comb here again, creep!

They also get increasingly irritated, like women who start with a polite no thanks, and it quickly escalates to F off and die, a-hole!  when the guy can’t take a hint and keeps following them around, grabbing.  The rooster’s lurking around Maybe now she’ll be in the mood, I’ll surprise her on the other side of this hay bale… and the hen is all You again?  Not if you were the last rooster in the coop, jerk!

Unwanted mating rarely goes unretaliated.  Either the hen delivers furious payback, or the deputy (Silkie roo) will come in, flying dropkick style, to hit the offending rooster, and knock him off, and then he does the chasing.

The Colonel and the Deputy are still the wingmen for the entire layer hen flock, although the Colonel only mates his own.  The deputy mounts the red hens, which is a bit weird, considering the size differential.  The Brahmas recognize no male authority, and the other young hens are still deciding and/or developing their self-esteem.  Sometimes they refuse applicants, sometimes not.

Chickadees

The daily birdsong here is breathtaking.  Constant, loud, varied.  Several kinds of woodpeckers, and other birds I don’t recognize beyond their type-wrens, juncos, finches.  The songbird life is rich.

In particular the chickadees seem to have no concern about having us as neighbours.  There’s one or two always chatting in a tree right over my head, or flitting by, or bouncing on a branch nearby.  One’s around me so often I feel like I’m being followed.  H.W. says they are not following him.  I think chickadees are endlessly adorable with their fast, perky energy.

It turned out we parked the camper right by a chickadee nest in the making- two, but it seemed to choose one over the other after a couple days.  It was hollowing out a dead tree started by a woodpecker.  In the first tree the hole was only deep enough for half the little bird body, so I could see the tail bobbing – what is it doing in there?  Then it would back out, fly to a nearby branch, and pfft, spit out a beakful of sawdust.  Repeat.  It seemed to choose the second tree and give up on the first, though.  This hole is lower to the ground but smaller, and the tree is only about 4” diameter.  We looked in and the cavity is about a foot deep!

Impressive for such a tiny bird, one mouthful at a time.  I haven’t seen him working on the excavation for a couple of days, so I suspect and hope that this means she’s setting on her eggs now.

*I guess he was gone courtin’;  he brought back a nice lady!  We were lucky enough to catch her inspecting the nest, and she must have approved of it, because then they both danced an excited little shimmy dance, and mated!  Proving the shimmy is universal.  So now she will be laying, and then setting.