True stories of a small flock of remarkable individuals -- and other critters.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


We humans do it with tweezers and brushes and aftershave and eyeliner.  

In the ladies' room at the restaurant, we line up in front of the mirror, refresh the lipstick, pouf the hairdo, pick that piece of spinach from between the teeth.  

And just like us, chickens have their rituals.

My ladies get together and preen after they've enjoyed a good meal.  

Pigeon preens to put her friends at ease. 
Once Pigeon starts, everyone joins in.

Daisy is an expert preener.  She makes use of the oil gland at the base of her tail to coat every red feather in shiny brilliance. She does a good job -- rain rolls off Daisy like it rolls off a duck.

 Lil'White, being perfect in every way, has no need to preen.  She reluctantly joins in , and finds one rogue feather that needs to be tweaked back in place.
Fern doesn't have time to preen. Just like she doesn't have time to lay an egg.  She does a quick flicking of the feathers, 
and then returns to her primary focus:  to make Lucy's life miserable.
But this time, Lucy has found safe haven on my arm.

And when she's done preening herself, 
she preens me. 

 She's hunting for grey hairs.

You missed one, Lucy.

One day while the ladies were grazing, Fern approached Lucy.  I assumed that Fern intended to peck and torture her as usual.  Instead, Lucy reached over and began to preen Fern.  I believe even Fern was surprised.

Being an Ameraucana, Fern is a "Bearded Lady" of the chicken world.  

so I'm guessing that Lucy had found some tasty crumbs stuck to her beard.   
Still, I was intrigued by Lucy's gesture toward her tormentor.

Fern seemed appreciative.

Marky, like Fern, is not into preening...
...I wonder if I could enlist Lucy to help out.