I have never had the opportunity to watch a mother hen with her baby chicks. I have been amazed at how she teaches them.
Watching a mama hen teaching her babies to eat is something I am so glad I have experienced. She calls them over with a special clucking sound and when they hear this sound they come running so fast, often with their little wings flapping to give them that extra speed. (Well most of them come running. Harry seems to have a mind of his own and does what he wants to do and not what his mama wants him to do.)
So the little chicks have been called over and they know it is to eat something but sometimes they don’t understand quite what it is that she is wanting them to eat. They poke their little beaks at the ground right beside hers and look quizzically about.
Today there were some very tiny bits of apple that she wanted them to try. So she picked up a bit as though she was going to eat it and then dropped it back down in front of the chicks. If they didn’t catch on straight away, she did it again and again until they understood just what it was they were meant to be eating. She kept this up until each chick had eaten what they wanted and then she had some for herself.
The other thing she has been teaching them is to scratch and peck. She does this amazingly exaggerated scratching of the grass with her funny little legs going so fast and then pecks at the ground calling her chicks over. (I have chick crumble sprinkled on the ground as well as in the chick feeder.) They come running along and start pecking at the chick crumble as she scratches the ground for them. They know to keep out of the way of mama’s feet.
Today I saw some of the baby chicks scratching the ground with their little pin sized legs, just like mama does, only maybe not quite so vigourously.