Thursday, July 25, 2019
FLOWN THE COOP
I invited a friend and her grandson to go along with me on a birding photoshoot. I’d hoped to show them some herons and egrets that typically inhabit a swamp not far from where they live. But, as often happens when I’m out photographing nature, something different presents itself than I’d planned.
We visited the marsh and didn’t find the birds I’d hoped for so we took a drive around the nearby countryside to see what else was out there. We’d driven a while when we spotted a striking chicken striding along the road edge. I did a u-turn so we could get a closer look.
How handsome a bird this was! Its red crown made me think it was a rooster, but I truly didn’t know. And my bird app was no help with it not listing a single chicken. The critter moved along quite fast, not liking the attention we were giving it. When I got home and looked on the internet, it appeared, from the feather coloring, this chicken was a Dutch Bantam.
Further down the road, we saw the tail-ends of three more chickens. The grass appeared to have been freshly mowed, and we surmised they were eating the grass or seeds that had flown into the undergrowth.
The first chicken to emerge from the undergrowth was this variegated chicken, which I quickly identified as a Plymouth Rock. It’s one of the most popular chicken breeds, raised both for its meat and its brown eggs. Meat? Oh my, is this what I’ve been grilling?
The Plymouth Rock wasn’t happy with our presence either. It began moving along too but was vocalizing the whole way.
The second chicken to finally pull out of the flower bed was this red-feathered chicken, probably a common Rhode Island Red. In my research to identify these chickens, I found a post about how to tell a hen (female) from a rooster (male). The roosters generally have larger, more developed, and vibrant red combs and wattles. Roosters also have more flashy plumage that says: Look at me. Aren’t I something?
Finally, a third chicken emerged from the undergrowth, another Dutch Bantam. Its feathers were exquisite too.
The bantam turned and looked directly at me, which allowed me to get one of those goofy, front-on shots that I love to take of birds. It really changes the appearance.
As we moved on to see if any activity had come to the swamp, I wondered what these roosters had been doing out loose on their own. Had they flown the coop? Or was this property their farm and they were used to wandering freely on their own? Or maybe it was just a boys’ night out on the town.