Cock-a-doodle-do

My crowing hen with a few other members of our flock last summer

I love weekends.  Winter weekends especially, with the sun not coming up until 6:45.  On the weekends during this time of year, when the kids are between sports, our family sometimes actually gets to sleep in as late a 7 or 8 am.  Well, that is until recently…

I know it sounds crazy, but around 5:30 AM, I have been woken up to crowing!  About 8 or 9 times, over the last month, I have been hearing this awful “gaw—gawk–gawk–gawk—gaaaawkkkkkk–,” in the predawn hours.  Really, how could that be? We only keep hens, and I am sure we have all girls in the coop because a couple of times a week, we get 5 different shades and shapes of eggs from 5 different chickens.  I can even tell you who lays each egg by just glancing at them.

As soon as I am awoken by the distinctive sound, I bolt out of bed, and run out the back door (usually at 5:30ish) in only my pjs and socks.  The first couple of times it was in hopes of catching the culprit in the act.  Sadly, I quickly discovered it to be my sweet little Penguin, a 1 1/2-year-old black bantam Cochin.  Each time I catch her in the act, there she is all proud of herself, neck stretched out, on her tippy toes on the roost bellowing out a pitiful crowing sort of sound, unlike anything a hen does at another time of day.  Off to the isolation pen in the garage she goes, and hopefully I don’t hear later about how “my chickens” disturbed anyone, especially my husband.

I have read it is very rare, but not unheard of, that in the absence of a rooster, a hen may take on the responsibilities of flock protector, including crowing.  Great.  Just my luck.  I must have won the chicken lottery, not once, but twice, because this is the second crowing hen I have had in 3 years.

The crow is not an extremely loud or even a stylized traditional “cock a doodle doo”…but it sure isn’t an egg song.  We have had crowing cockerels for brief periods when our broodies raise chicks, so I have learned to recognize the sound of a cockerel with a novice crow that just needs a bit more polishing.  To make matters worse, Penguin’s crow is just loud enough to wake me with the windows closed and the coop 25 feet from my bedroom.  That means it is probably loud enough to wake the neighbors, come summer when everyone has their windows open.

I really wish it could be a different hen.  Penguin is very calm, friendly, and easy to handle, plus she is a great mama hen when she has chicks.  I am hoping that this is just a phase.  Recently, I have seen the Easter Egger challenging her when they are all out in the yard.  Hopefully the EE will move to the top of the pecking order and Penguin will give up the crowing.

My neighbor, K, who really likes Penguin, has mentioned that if Penguin doesn’t stop in the next few weeks, she could take her.  K keeps red stars, which are much larger than a bantam Cochin.  I hope it doesn’t come to it, but Penguin may have to move across the street in order to move to the bottom of a pecking order and to get her to give up crowing.  I will update if anything changes, but for now, Penguin is staying at Hanbury House.  However, she will get to sleep in garage on weekend nights, just in case.

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Comments

Cock-a-doodle-do — 5 Comments

  1. Hi,
    My name is John. I found your blog while I was searching for “Growing Blackberries in Southern California.” as I just bought a pair of O’neil & Misty blueberry plants at H&H and looking for other berries. Then as I was scanning various posts, and saw the pictures I realized you’re right in Long Beach.
    My wife and I have been working on a home in Carson Park (by El Dorado). I’ve been doing it quasi-retro as well. I’ve got an old O’keefe& Merrit stove similar to the one in the background of your candle making photos. I made a range hood out of a damaged 53 chevy hood I picked up at the Pomona swap meet for 30 bucks. Basically, tried to immitate a 50’s soda shop when I remodeled the kitchen. I actually, tried to restore the old metal cabinets but that didn’t work. The powdercoating popped 20% of my doors. Oh well. In talking to the neighbors, I discovered that one was a great cabinet guy. Looks great.
    I did the bathrooms retro as well. I was pouring over pictures of 40’s,50’s bathrooms for days figuring out the right look. It’s almost done. Did the hardwood floors last month. We’re painting the last room this weekend. Then we just have baseboard.
    I was even looking for what you called a “kit-cat” clock as my wife has two cats.
    Anyways, as soon as I got our planter and wall done in the backyard, I couldn’t wait. We started planting vegetables in pots all over the place. (Backyard, still looks like a construction zone, piles of metal, wood, and my used brick collection) We got a list of stuff we want to plant.
    Last year, we got a great crop of Japanese Eggplants, Shishito Peppers (those were great, productive after first week),mint, Basil, Rosemary, Tomatoes. We were eating them all year. It was just an expiriment but it worked out really well. So, this year started out with Sugar Snap peas and the blue-berries. I always wanted to get into gardening.
    Thought, I’d say “Hi.” I may hit you up for some advice on the blueberries. The kiwi’s look really good too.
    You have a really cool blog.

    John & Yoshika from Long Beach

  2. Oh dear, I feel your pain about the crowing. Roosters are ubiquitous here where we live (the Philippines), so we have to deal with crowing from neighbors’ cocks at all hours. I never knew hens could take on those characteristics. I wonder how many decibels a rooster’s crow actually is. They are SO loud and annoying. But I love the clucking of the hens, and their excited announcements when they lay.

  3. Well, Penguin is still crowing once or twice a week. Therefore, she went to K’s house yesterday. I am a bit sad about it since Penguin has been my favorite chicken for a long time. Besides sad, I am even more worried that Penguin will just start crowing in her new flock, too. K said she will be patient with her and give Penguin a few weeks to turn into a girlie girl hen again.

    If not, I haven’t decided what I will do with Penguin. I really doubt anyone would want a crowing hen.

  4. Pingback: Update on the crowing hen | Hanbury House

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