Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Whistling girls...

My mother taught me this rhyme-

Whistling girls, and crowing hens
Always come to some bad ends.

She was explaining why she couldn't whistle, when I was around 6, and fiercely trying to learn how.  When she was a kid- any girl that whistled would be faced with that chant from the other school kids.  So girls pretty much didn't.

This is not a post about post feminist posting, however.

It's about crowing hens.  I think we've got one.

You'll remember, if you're following closely, that a while back I was puzzling over the sex of our Dominique bird. 

We'd pretty much decided that it was a she- based on the appearance of two types of chicken eggs in the coop.  The shape is different from the guineas; rounder on both ends; and the texture of the shell is quite different, the guinea eggs having what look like rather large pores scattered about while the chicken eggs look more like smooth porcelain to the naked eye.  We were getting one "big" and one "banty" sized chicken egg, nearly daily; and since we have only 3 chickens, and Kanga is definitely all rooster- the math seemed simple.

Then, two weeks ago- I heard two roosters crowing at the same time.  The math was still the same.  3 chickens.  Two crowing.   And then I saw the Dominique actually crow; several times.  What the hay.

So yesterday we found two new chicken eggs- one definitely banty sized- and with the light brown color we've gotten used to there.  And one much larger- and a darker brown.  

Well; heck.  So DO hens sometimes crow?  Is Silly Sally, the Dominique, actually a cross dressing hen?  Spice wants to rename her/him Saleddie.  We hope Eddie Izzard will approve.
(R-rated language there)

Meanwhile- anybody have experience with crowing hens??  Do they exist?


Nancy M. said...

I have heard that sometimes hens will crow. Not any hen that I've ever had, but that's not to say it never happens. Does it try to fight the other rooster? Even young roosters generally try to buck up at each other.

Carw Gwynt said...

Yes, dominant hens may sometimes crow, but they don't sound usually exactly like roosters crowing (much as they might try). The few times that I've heard it, it sounded like a rooster with laryngitis. Doesn't mean all of them do, though.

These days, we keep up to 100 chickens at a time, for eggs for us and to sell. I haven't heard that particular call from any of the hens in many years.

In contrast, last year we had an adolescent rooster trying to crow, and he had a break in his voice, making a high-pitched squeak right in the middle.

Ann said...

I have two hens that crow. Both are older speckled sussex, and they are definitely hens. They've laid eggs for years. They are the dominant hens of the flock, and the "queen" even has spurs. She still lays eggs, though. Go figure. We don't have any roosters. If there is a squabble, the queen beats the aggressor down. Tough old bird.

Greenpa said...

Nancy - I've never seen it fight the other rooster, a bigger Buff Orp; but- it does have a few missing feathers on its back, and feathers out of place sometimes. But so does the banty hen; from being constantly mounted.

We did crack the big egg for breakfast and looked- it was fertile.

Carw- the Dominique's crow sounded like a normal rooster, alas; no noticeable anomalies, and I'm sensitive to them. Is it possible an older breed like the Doms might have a different sound in this situation?

Carw Gwynt said...

Greenpa, I'm afraid that I don't know enough about Doms in particular or crowing hens in general to know if the antiquity of a breed would affect what a crowing hen would sound like.

When we had any crowing hens at all, they were White Rocks (which don't even get listed as a separate breed in some books, because they're a hybrid originally based on White Plymouth Rock and Cornish breeds).

I just took the time to watch and listen to some videos of crowing hens on the YouTube site, with several different breeds. For some of them I wouldn't have been able to tell you if it was a hen or rooster just by the sound. With others, it was quite clear (at least to me) that it was a hen.

As for being sensitive to anomalous crowing of roosters, I'm right there with you. Sometimes that's the only clue that something strange is going on with the roosters (and the chickens in general).

thyme said...

"A whistling woman and a crowing hen
Are of no use to God, nor men."

Pretty brutal, eh! My grandmother taught my mother that and my mother thought it was rubbish. Perhaps my grandmother did too....

Jane said...

"A whistling woman and a crowing hen
Are neither use to god nor men...."

That's the version that I heard as a child! (Whenever I whistled!)

My chooks hatched 11 eggs last spring (Nov in Australia) and 8 survived. There were four hens and four roosters. The roosters are now in the freezer.

Jarex said...

Just found your blog searching for "crowing hen" - we got one of our own. The noise is kind of cute in the morning, like a little tomboy out in the yard.


Sam said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. I agree with Nancy M. I have heard that sometimes hens will crow. Not any hen that I've ever had, but that's not to say it never happens. Does it try to fight the other rooster?

Greenpa said...

Sam- the bird continues to be confused/confusing. We've seen the other rooster "tread" the crowing hen- he had to chase "her" a lot to get there, but it happened. But- "SalEddie", as Spice calls her/it/him, now has VERY big spurs; and acts like a rooster in every other way, including attacking other birds, dogs, and people.

The other rooster, Kanga, is unusually agressive, though-really too agressive to put up with. We're starting to call him "Stewie", particularly when he flies up and pecks someone while we're feeding them...

Anonymous said...

Add us to the list of crowing hen owners..."Little Red" stopped laying about a year ago. We had only her and a rooster. He died about 2 months ago. My husband {86} heard her one morning and has been listening to hear her crow ever since. Finally this morning she woke me with her crow. Sounded just like a rooster. Now we are going to check for spurs.

Anonymous said...

Sable1234 - LOL, my mother tried to convince me that that phrase was in the bible. I pointed out to her that the bible was written in Hebrew and Greek and translated into other languages. No ways would a translated phrases rhyme. I challenged her to find the verse in the bible. She did indepth research and gave up in the end... You see I was raised on a farm in the mountains and it was easier to get some ones attention if they were in the valley and you were on a hill by whistling ;-) believe me I can whistle most men under the carpet....nowdays I whistle to call my dogs for their food or if they are doing something naughty. Very handy.