The coup in the coop

Yesterday, it seems, the balance of power in our chicken coop shifted.

Our flock of chickens
The flock, with curious Cricket investigating.

Our ‘boss’ hen, Raven, remains in her happy (and oblivious) position at the top of the pecking order, but something has upset Harriet’s apple cart. I can’t say I’m terribly sorry for her, as it appears Harriet has grown into a bit of a bully.

Chickens scratching over scraps
Harriet and Matilda happily scratching over scraps

She started out the smallest chick in the coop, at about 8 weeks old. We named her “Harriet” because she would shoot about like a Harrier jet, darting away from all the other chooks. Perhaps she felt she had something to prove, but once she hit the number two spot, she was pretty relentless in keeping an eye out on the up-and-comers.

Rose and Matilda pecking scraps
The competition: Matilda, and ‘Rose’

She certainly had daggers drawn for our hen-turned-rooster, ‘Rose’. Despite the fact that he was almost twice her size, she never let up chasing him around.

Now, however, she is decidedly meek. What has happened? I can’t tell from their behaviour as a group, but I suspect that Matilda has made a stand, and as is often the case with a bully, Harriet has backed right off.

I think the new pecking order is something like:

Raven -> Matilda -> Harriet -> Cricket

It’s the boss chook’s job to look after the vulnerable chickens, but Cricket is really no longer in that category. Look at the size of her now! I think she might be the biggest chicken, physically, in the coop:

Chickens preening after a snack
Fluffing up, after a snack (Cricket on the right)

Raven and Cricket still run together like BFFs, so it’s hard to know for sure what the pecking order is. Cricket is still skittish of Harriet, but Harriet is now deferring to both Matilda and Cricket, who are getting first serves at the goodies. Matilda also frequently roosts above the other chickens, balanced on the upper coop ventilation window (silly chook!). Whereas Harriet still roosts on the level with Raven. Cricket seems to prefer either being sat on by Raven (or squished against the wall), or roosting below Raven on a lower perch.

Really, chicken politics is almost as silly as real politics. Am I right?

I really love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment! :)

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