What to expect when you’re expecting…

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… baby bluebirds.

On April 23, I took a pic of the nest with two eggs. Yesterday I discovered there are now four eggs. The female doesn’t seem to be in the nest enough to incubate and hatch the eggs. But maybe soon she will get with the program.

Or maybe this is a pair of slacker bluebirds. Just mooching suet dough off me and posing winsomely for photos. I guess we will find out eventually.

Hello, I’m back

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Great Egret goes fishing, in Stuart, Florida.

I was in Florida for a few weeks and I have been a slacker when it comes to keeping up with the blog. And I have some nice bird pics from the Sunshine State too.

Home now, and the bluebirds are nesting in the bluebird box…

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Will she lay another or will there be just two baby bluebirds? The nest is made of pine needles, with a bit of feather down fluff for added insulation.

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Chickadees come to the feeder even when I am standing right next to it, the bold ones.

Before your impulse purchase of cute fluffy baby chicks at the feed store, listen to the grownup hen

Hen greets the morning with a sweet warbling song. Not.

Technically, this sound is called cackling.

Translated from Chicken to English: “I laid an egg! I laid an egg!”

Sometimes this a lie. Or it is simply a repetition of what another hen said, passing along the boastful gossip. Sometimes there really is an egg, most often in an egg box in the coop. But this little Easter Egger hen lays her blue eggs here and there so we have to go on an Easter egg hunt to find them. One of the drawbacks to free ranging.

I like my hens, I like their eggs, but I do not really like this noise, especially on the earlier side of morning, especially when all four of them get going in chorus, and sometimes I go toss some corn or stale bread to distract and shut them up.

Root Simple: Do Hens Make Noise?

Being naive first time chicken owners, the first time we heard this sound caught us by surprise. We suspected that it’s the result of discomfort from squeezing out an egg, or some wonder of selective breeding, a way to announce to the poultry farmer, “Hey, time to collect an egg!” In fact, research presented by University of Sheffield animal scientists Tommaso Pizzari and Tim R. Birkhead, in an article entitled “For whom does the hen cackle? The function of postoviposition cackling,” posit that cacking is a way for hens to get the message out to nearby roosters that they ain’t in the mood. As Pizzari and Brikhead put it, “One function of postoviposition cackling may thus be to avoid the costs of sexual harassment by signalling to males a particularly unsuitable time for fertilization.” This contradicts earlier theories that cacking was, in fact, an invitation to boogie.

I have no rooster. I did once, by accident, but a rooster’s morning song is much, much more awful and so he went to live up the road where someone wanted him to supervise and inseminate her free ranging hens. You get eggs without a rooster. But the hens cackle no matter what.

Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid.- Mark Twain

A salute to the backyard flock

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Marianne the Barred Plymouth Rock strikes a classic pose.

My four hens will be 3 years old in a couple of weeks and they are still laying as many eggs as we need for breakfast and baking.

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Grace the Buff Orpington finds little green things and bug larvae out front.

It’s just been in the past week that enough snow melted for some seriously dedicated free-ranging. They are fired up, my ferocious foragers, after being cooped up so much this winter. They want nothing to do with their regular feed.

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Lucy the Rhode Island Red.

Sure they tear up the wrong plants sometimes, or make unsightly bare spots, or create dust bowl wallows in the flower beds. But they fertilize, and till, and get rid of Japanese beetle larvae and other bad bugs.

And they lay eggs.

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Eggs in front are from my hens. The others were white grocery store eggs my daughters and I dyed last night.

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Ella the Easter Egger (Ameraucana) takes a break under the rhododendron. She lays pale greenish blue eggs.

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Spring salad for happy hen.

Happy Easter!

Relax and stop hiding your eggs, Grace Kelly

My hens usually lay two or three eggs a day. Lately I have been getting one or two.

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But I discovered that’s because one chicken has been hiding her eggs under the back deck behind a piece of wooden lattice leaning against the wall.

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Here is the culprit: Grace Kelly the Buff Orpington.

She was always the hen that seemed most likely to go broody. When I had a rooster (named Caesar) she was his favorite. I suspect she decided she was going to hatch a clutch of eggs and fulfill her biological destiny – impossible, of course, since Caesar went to live on a nice little farm in the next town north of here.

Or else she just didn’t like the coop nest boxes anymore.

Yesterday I got, in the mail, a little treat for myself and my chickens: Chicken Nesting Box Herb Blend.

(Fresh Eggs Daily photo)

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This wonderful blend of aromatic culinary herbs and edible flowers in your chicken coop nesting boxes will act as a natural insecticide, rodent-repellent, stress reliever and laying stimulant for your chickens. And your coop will never smell better!

Basil – insecticide, antibacterial, aids in mucus membrane health
Chamomile – kills mites and lice, antiseptic, antibiotic, calming, relaxant, detoxifier
Lavender – stress reliever, aromatic, insecticide
Marigold (Calendula) – insecticide, antioxidant
Marjoram – laying stimulant, detoxifier, improves blood circulation
Peppermint – insecticide, rodent repellent
Red Raspberry Leaf – antioxidant, relaxant
Rose Petals – aromatic, antiseptic, antibacterial

Sprinkle liberally in your nesting boxes during regular cleanings or any time you wish. The herbs have wonderful health benefits so your chickens will thank you. As an added bonus, your coop will look and smell wonderful !

Will Grace Kelly be more inclined to spend time in a pretty-smelling nest box in the coop? Who knows. But I enjoyed sprinkling liberally and sniffing the nice smells.

When my daughter Anna saw me open the package and I told her what was in the muslin bags, she said: “That’s it. You ARE a witch.”

“No,” I said. “If I were a witch, I would be gathering and blending these herbs myself instead of ordering them from Etsy.”

More on Chicken Aromatherapy from Fresh Eggs Daily.