A Curious Phenomenon

There’s clearly some confusion in the backyard these days. I don’t know if it’s the extra hours of sunlight, the warmer nights or just a desire for a change of scenery.

Birds on the coop

Whatever the reason, it’s a curious phenomenon that’s happening out there. Our birds stopped going in their coop.

Chicken Feet

When the sun sets and the neighborhood settles down, Susie Q, MaryAnne and Roz have a pretty simple routine. They gather in the run, often stopping for one last drink of water or a couple bites of feed. Then, the ladies march up the ramp and into their coop one by one, settling in to roost for the night. They coo contentedly and wait for the door to close securely behind them.

Chickens roosting on the roof

But lately, they’re not going in at all. In fact, instead of roosting in their coop, they’re roosting onย their coop. The process is actually quite hilarious to watch (season two of Chicken TV).

Roosting on the coop

Usually Susie is the first to ascend. She wiggles her bottom, revs up her wings and launches herself into the air before gliding down onto the peaked roof of the coop. Roz goes next. MaryAnne demonstrates a different technique. She gets a little distressed, seeing the other girls up so high while she remains below. She paces around the ground for a few minutes before flapping her wings and landing on top of the nesting box which hangs off the side of the coop. She regroups and makes the second leg of the journey to the roof.

Secure birds

Wings

Curled chicken feet

And there they sit, often securing one another with their wings. The sky continues to darken, minute by minute, and they don’t move one bit.

And this means, instead of simply walking outside and locking up the coop, I find myself in a flapping, wind-blowing wrestling match every night. Because we have to pick up each individual hen and put her where she belongs, in the coop, safe and secure from predators.

MaryAnne

It’s best to grab MaryAnne first, simply because she’s the most pleasant and doesn’t seem to object to my chicken-handling skills.

Roz on the roof

Roz feigns distaste for the situation by getting her wings going as I lower her down into the run.

Susie Q on the roof

And then there’s Susie. I have to take a deep breath before I get Susie. Just as she had no problem shoving her sisters out of the way in their brooder box as a week old chick, she likes to show me who’s the boss. She tenses up, her wings escape my fingers and she aggressively tries to escape from my grasp.

Sheesh, lady, I’m just trying to keep you out of the hungry mouth of a neighborhood raccoon.

Birds on the coop

Night after night, this is what’s going down. The neighbors are chuckling and I had to explain to the lovely house sitter that the chicken wrangling portion of her job would be a little more difficult this weekend.

My only hope? That these birds will tire of our evening encounters and take their little tail feathers into their house on their own.

4 thoughts on “A Curious Phenomenon

  1. That’s hilarious….. but it doesn’t sound like alot of fun!!!! Good luck Monday night, FB fan ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. What a great story! Any chance you would feel comfortable with them in the screened area of their “compound” if they wish to be outside after dark? Then build a small “peak like” perch mimicking the peak of their rooftop, just high enough so they feel elevated and to accommodate their leaps for the height of the area, but wide enough for them to all fit on as they do their coop rooftop? Not quite what they have sitting high above their grand plantation, but sometimes we humans can’t give them everything, even though me may wish to!
    We humans like our perches and summer breeze at the end of a hard day. Should we expect anything less when we nurture and pamper the critters we love so much!!! Do we not love spoiling them?
    These ladies have the best. Why shouldn’t they expect more?

    I know you have nothing else to do!!!

  3. You can try to lure them with dried crickets or meal worms. My girls come running when they see those. They will go anywhere the bugs are. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. We had the same thing happen to us! It didn’t end well. Early April one of our 10 hens wouldn’t go in the coop at night. Her little friends tried to prod her but she refused. One little lady would even sit out with her some nights. Because the nights were getting longer, I had turned off the light in the coop so I turned that back on at dusk. She didn’t seem to notice. I added another perch in the coop, it didn’t bring her in. I wasn’t too concerned about her because the coop was in a secure pen. However, after one of our April snow storms, with snow blowing directly at her, I decided she must go in. I put her in the coop, she came out. I put her in, she came out! Finally, I let her have her way and she sat in the snowy wind all night. I felt terrible. The next night I decided I needed to be more forceful. I put buckets along the coop where she was perching so she couldn’t get on top of the coop. She went inside that night. The next day she was…um…a goner…perched in the giant coop up in the sky. We were prepared to lose chickens to predators but this was heartbreaking because we didn’t know what happened to her. We still don’t know. My first theory was that the other girls were picking on her and they pecked her to death. It seemed to make sense but she didn’t show signs of abuse. My latest theory was that she had a respiratory issue. I tried to keep the coop clean but maybe when things thawed a bit the air quality was poor in the coop and she couldn’t take it? It was a scary few days following her death because I was so afraid we’d lose another. As crazy as it sounds, I almost wish we’d had an autopsy so we knew what happened. Good luck with your girls, I hope they will find their way inside soon!

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