I didn’t think it ever happened. Everything I’ve read says that if the members of the flock stay the same, the pecking order stays the same. I’ve been observing something that causes me to question that…..
It’s been well over two months now but the two most recent additions to my flock are Sweet Thing and Jewel. Sweet Thing is an Ameraucana with gold, cream, and silver feathers. Jewel is a Welsummer with dark russet, orange, black, and gold feathers – both beautiful birds with fun personalities.
The other five were here a month before that. The new kids were both the brunt of some bullying in their first weeks here, but Jewel is bigger and automatically ranked higher.
Sweet Thing had to sneak food, scurry past a couple of the older girls to get to the yard, sleep below the roost on a shelf, and generally stay out of the way. She adjusted to her position and got along okay. Being the underdog, of course she was my favorite.
A little over a week ago, I was picking strawberries in the garden just over the fence from the area where the hens hang out. I made a rookie mistake and tossed them berries that didn’t make the grade. They loved them and the next day, Sweet Thing flew over the fence right into the strawberries! Then two others followed her! I dropped what I was doing and got down there fast to roust them out. They are devil birds who love to make momma chase!
That night, I got out to the coop to lock up after it was already dark. I flipped a light on for a second to take roll and Miss Sweet Thang was up on the roost with the others AND on the left side with the Buff Orpingtons, Buffy and Pushy, and the Dominique, Ripley. She got up into the VIP section and they were letting her stay! I wondered what was going on but then I remembered what she did that day and thought maybe she’d passed a test, proven herself worthy – a rite of passage into serious hen-hood, a flock initiation? That couldn’t be a coincidence, could it?
Since then, I’ve made it a point to go out there after it’s dark so that I can find them already settled in to where they’re going to sleep. She’s still up on the roost, sometimes on the left, sometimes on the right, often in the middle, like this.
During the day, I rarely see her picked on anymore. She seems to do her own thing and isn’t bothered by pecking any more than the others are.
She jumped into another part of the garden yesterday, so I’ve had to add some chicken wire to the top of the fence. She will not defeat me!
I did a little research and read that pecking order generally stays the same because the one on the low end is too afraid to challenge the status quo. I don’t know that it was about bravery for Sweet Thing; likely just inability to resist strawberries (she is not alone there), but she did it! I think I see a little spring in her step now; I really do.