Lesson 1101 – Charlie remembers

Although we have several chickens in our flock (all with their own stories) the one I am asked the most often about is: Charlie.

When Charlie was born, her deformed feet (curled and webbed) pretty much assured that she was not going to have a happy and long life. I took a chance and brought her home. With my son’s assistance, I performed surgery to release the webbing, splinted her toes to straighten them out and then I gave her chicken physical therapy (up on the roost, off of the roost, up on the roost, etc.) Charlie ended up living as a pet in our house for 6 months (I know, I know) and became as much a member of our family as anyone else. If someone was watching TV, Charlie would be there sitting on a shoulder watching the show along with all of us. Charlie loved the Super Bowl and in particular, she loved those little bagel pizzas that always seem to come with the game.

As Charlie got older, I set up a nest near my desk and she would spend hours, sitting in her nest watching me type (which is why when she pecked a letter off of Marc’s keypad, I was convinced she was simply trying to emulate “mom”.)

Eventually I transitioned Charlie to the outside coop – a bittersweet experience at best. I missed my Charlie.

I had read an answer to a chicken question by FarmerBlue that stated chickens do not have long term memory. Chickens, it continued, only have the capacity to remember things for, at most, 2 weeks. If this is the case, no one has told Charlie.

When we leave the back door open, Charlie will pop in, quick as a bunny, to trot over to Pippin’s dog food dish where she knows (remembers) that there is food there that she likes.

When I’m in the back yard, as soon as she hears (remembers) my voice she runs over to me.

And at dinner, Charlie always stays around my chair at the outdoor table. (of course to be honest, I think that this one is more because I slip her treats than it is that she is remembering something.)

I’ve seen our other chickens “remember” things. Most impressively, in the Spring when they are released from staying in the coop in the winter, I’ll see them immediately go over to the exact place where we’ve kept water or food for them in the past. Conditioning or memory, I couldn’t tell you.

In the end, I don’t suppose it matters, but I’d like to think that Charlie will always remember she is a member of our family flock, because I know I always will.



Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

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4 responses to “Lesson 1101 – Charlie remembers

  1. Whoever said chickens have no long term memory hasn’t kept them. One of our younger cats attempted to “hug” Henrietta, senior chicken, and a bantie cochin. She was not amused, declared it was a murder attempt and that he should be forever banned.. Many months later our other cats are free to wander in and out of the coop area and wherever the rest of the gang free range. Finn however, gets screamed at if he ever appears anywhere in the vicinity, including at the window in the house. Not only does she remember she has taught the others to recognize him and raise the alarm.

  2. Lisa

    How did you handle Charlie’s droppings when she was in the house?
    What I mean is, was she trained in some way? That way? Oh, you know what I mean….

    • Wendy Thomas

      That’s one of the reasons Charlie had to move outside. She didn’t like the diapers, wouldn’t go in a litter box and I couldn’t click train her. Little chicks make little poops, bigger birds make (much) bigger ones.

      Marc finally said it was him or the bird, and while I was tempted :-), I moved Charlie to live outside with the rest of the flock.


      On Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 4:34 PM, Lessons Learned from the Flock wrote:


  3. I think chickens do remember stuff. I also think they can talk. Mine definitely try to tell us stuff all the time.

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