Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bird Brains

So many times in any given week, 
I wish I knew more about animal behavior.

You would think with as much time as I spend with them,
I would understand them better.

The dogs are no problem....
I understand them perfectly.

The horses and goats...
don't often confuse me.

But, the birds???
I just don't get it.
So many times their behavior just makes no sense to me.

Take for example the ducks....

Presently our pond is frozen, and has been for about 2 months.

There are two unfrozen puddles, kept liquid by two aerator pumps.
One of the holes is twice as large as the other.

The smaller hole holds all 18 ducks, with little room left over.
For weeks, now, the ducks have been staying in the larger opening.

Then all of a sudden, 2 days ago they moved to the smaller hole.

And the funny thing is...
they all move together.
They never split up...
which would make more room for them to swim.

No, they move en mass from hole to hole.
I haven't a clue!

Then there are the guinea fowl.
If you have ever raised guineas, you will know
that they are not the sharpest tool in the shed....
impossible to train.

Two summers ago I ordered 30 guinea keats.
I tried every trick in the book to teach them to roost in a henhouse
at night (protection from predators).
Short of picking them all up each night and placing them in the house,
nothing worked.
Even their favorite treat of white millet was not enough to entice them.

And so, over the following two years, their numbers dwindled.
We have 3 left....and we have had just these three for over a year now.
Each night they roost in the 200 year old pine tree by the barn.

Yesterday, for some reason, they decided to join the ranks
in the chicken yard....
their leader flew to the top of the chicken yard door
and hopped right in.
This of course caused quite a stir amongst the hens.
"Hey, whose ugly cousin came to visit?" I heard one cry.

I opened the door, and the other two followed suit.

With a severe ice storm threatening us,
I thought it was a good place for them to spend the night....
in the warmth and shelter of the henhouse
(figuring that they would follow the hens into the henhouse
when the sun set at night)


They sat out on the fence
in the freezing rain
with no protection
just out of reach

(I fear they will be ice balls when I find them this morning.)

So, if any of you can shed some light on bird behavior for me
I would greatly appreciate it.
Because as far as I am concerned,
for the most part,
they just never make much sense.

Except for chickens.


  1. As being a brand new blogger I come across this information very helpful, thank you for posting

  2. LOL... well, our neighbors had a guinea hen (a lavendar) that fell in love with his reflection in our horse trailer hub cap. He would spend hours each day talking to his hubcap buddy even though he had the real deal to hang out with. Definitely not the sharpest tools in the shed. The ducks huddle in mass to protect themselves against predators. I love that pic of all of them in the smaller hole, so funny!

  3. Hum? As for the ducks, I would say the smaller the hole made them huddle closer together for warmth? A change of pace? We like to change our surroundings, maybe they do too?

    The Guineas... Cant say.

    I know, it does not make any since. I cant explain but it did make for an interesting read and it truly got my mind working.

  4. It is amazing just how dumb guineas are. Chickens have the ability to solve problems and guineas seem lucky just to remember to breathe.

    I house my chickens and guineas together in the winter. If I throw scratch on the outside of their pen-on the opposite side from the open pen door, the hens in the pen know to turn away from the scratch that they can see through the screening and to go out through the door and run around the outside of the pen to get to the scratch.

    The guineas will walk back and forth along the back side of the pen as if they are waiting for a door to magically appear for them in the screening to get to the scratch.

    Even our turkeys are way smarter than our flighty silly guineas.
    Heather in PA

  5. Gosh, I have no idea. I think guineas want to roost high because of that instinct to keep away from predators. I hope the ice storm doesn't do them in. A frozen-solid guinea would be a sad sight indeed.

    I showed my husband the duck pictures, and he said, "Even ducks like variety." So there's your answer! :-)

  6. I often feel like a guinea lately...I feel like I do the dumbest' a memory thing! So be easy on us takes all kinds for this old world to spin!
    You don't suppose they think they know better and you are just to pushy? Ha!

  7. I think you are a chicken fan!!! FAVORITISM!!! One trait I have noticed in my wild birds is that they are at the feeders more often when we are going to have bad weather..The ducks may be warmer huddled together..could be the "flock" instinct that keeps them from splitting up?? Safety in numbers???

  8. Our guineas are dumb as bricks too. They will leave 55 acers of land to go stand in the road and watch a car mow them down. We were down to 5 and then the birds decided to lay and set. Please keep in mind that I can't pay my hens to set. I was all ready for the guineas to die out. Now we have 18 again. They do come into the hen house each night. That is unless they forget. My mom raised guineas when I was a child and they roosted in the 50 ft pine trees. Who knows what they think of if they even do. They are beautiful and make a great noise though.;)

  9. LOL well I'm sorry but I can't help you with the Guinea's and ducks behavior. Our geese were pretty interesting and our chickens are cool...but we did have one little fellow who drove me crazy. His name was Cornelius and he was a silver leghorn...a pretty little fellow but not too bright. Either that or he was just plain stubborn. He decided that he was just going to fly up into the trees at night and for some reason thought it was better pickings on the other side of the fence even though he had been chased MANY times by our huge young dog Shep. Anyway while we were gone to Canada to visit my family he and the other rooster we had separated from the hens and Romeo decided to 'fly the coop' and went AWOL. Poor Cornelius was caught and eaten and Pretty Boy our Buff Orpington rooster lost his tail...flesh and all but he survived. Oh well ...just when you think you've got them figured out..animals can sure fool you. Good luck with your guineas! (I think I may try a couple one day)
    Maura :)


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