"Mom," said a sleepy-eyed Rachel,
"I think I heard a rooster crowing at dawn this morning."
I froze. My palms began to get sweaty.
"Oh no . . . " I whispered,
"Can it be that we have lost the chickie lottery?
Have we a rooster in the sorority?"
I quickly Bing-ed "Australorpe Hen Crow"
Hmmmm . . . several entries.
Well, what do you know . . .
According to some, a dominant hen will begin crowing in the absence of a rooster. Furthermore, this begins occurring as early as 2 months of age (ours are about 2-1/2 months old). Many eyewitness accounts backed up this assertion, including some very entertaining clips on YouTube of full-fledged laying hens crowing like a fancy rooster.
Rachel studied the clips and pronounced that
the filmed roosters' cock-a-doodle-doo weren't what she heard,
but the choked, gasping squawk-a-doodle of the hens
sounded about right.
The following morning Lydia heard the "charming" wake-up-call
and pronounced it strained and garbled,
unlike the rooster calls we had witnessed.
Is it just possible that we have a cock-a-doodling hen?
(Wishful thinking, maybe?)
"NO!" shout some experts,
denouncing such a notion as poppycock,
flatly stating, "If it crows it is a rooster.
Pop it in the pot now and save yourself a heap of trouble!"
(Oh dear! I wasn't planning on Cock-a-Doodle Stew.)
Another contributor soothes the worried chicken-novice in me by noting that Australorpes are such a tame breed that the roosters get along just fine with the gals and should be kept in the group with the hopes that he will multiply your flock for free.
Hmmmm . . . hadn't really counted on any of this.
Just wanted some laying hens.
Decisions, decisions . . .
And so, I reviewed all of the tell-tale signs of rooster-ness versus hen-ness noting the differences in feathers, tails, combs, etc. One claims shiny feathers are ALWAYS males, yet our chicken breed boasts shiny blue-black or purple-black or even green-black feathers. Another says look at the temperament and you can tell right away who is the valiant one protecting the rest. Nope! They are all "chickens." (guffaw!)
Lastly a commenter suggested you throw a frisbee overhead and see who ducks for cover (hens) and who stands to fight (rooster). Surely he jests. My chickies are simply clueless about real life. They run around like children at recess -- no organization among these birds.
What to do?
Is it you Miss Bossy Britches?
You are obviously the eldest and most developed.
Or maybe it is you, Freckles.
You may have lost your speckled kerchief, but not your independence.
Which is which?
Does either of you have a set of spurs a-foot?
Oh bother, this annoys me.
I can't see any tell-tale sign
amidst these disparate tail-feather fashions
Or multi-sheened coats of feathers.
"Wait ladies! I'm not finished . . .
I can't tell this from that while you are standing still . . . If you take off I'll have to start all over again!"
I guess I'll simply keep my eye on this flock of beauties
And see what happens.
So far . . .
I'm betting we've got a loud and bossy female drill sergeant.
But only time will tell.
Anyone care to take a guess?