The babies are testing their wings. As you may know, when you introduce new members to a flock there is always a bit of jostling that needs to happen before everyone can settle down into their assigned positions. Older hens are at the top, young rambunctious (and dare I say at times, obnoxious) youngsters are at the bottom, it’s the same way it’s always been – you can join us at Thanksgiving dinner but you have to eat at the little kids’ table *sigh*.
I had made a secure nursery inside the coop so that the littles would have a safe place to go when the pecking from the elders got to be too much (which initially was all the time). This turned out to be a welcomed haven of safety to which all the babies immediately ran to when they were released from the sleeping quarters each morning. Entire days were spent within the nursery walls. We were careful to make sure that food and water was always available concerned that the babies would never venture away from the safety of the nursery’s protection to where the rest of the flock’s community sustenance was located.
The problem is that our chicks are growing and will at some point need to introduce themselves into the flock. They can’t be protected forever and like it or not, at some point just like a mother Robin does, they will need to be pushed out of the nest. As I started worrying about how this was going to be humanely accomplished, I noticed that the chicks went from spending the day inside the nursery to spending the day on top of the nursery. (we used old wire dog crate pieces – they had holes small enough for chicks to pass under but not for older hens.) From up there they had (dare I say it? ) a bird’s eye view of the flock’s goings on.
The chicks are still safe from the older hens but now they are taking the role of astute observers to the activities around them. The water is located over there, Morgan hides in a corner escaping the wrath of the others, and the lame bird seems to be trying to put some weight on her twisted foot. The babies are watching the political dynamics in the flock and I’m sure they are taking notes.
In the meantime they continue to grow looking more like gawky adolescents than like Easter basket chicks. The time will come soon, when filled with insight as to how the flock operates, they will hop off the top of the nursery ready to play fair game with those who have become their family.