Saturday, January 3, 2009

Crowdown at Busy Solitude

It's my first day with absolutely no need to go to work since Christmas, so I went to visit the chickens with my camera. A thin overcast of clouds fills our skies. That allows bright light to come in the chicken pen window -- nice for photos.

Egglebert came and perched on one of the PVC bars. As I talked to him, he began to crow. This first photo is fuzzy because I turned off the flash on the camera, hoping to get his comb backlit from the window. You might notice the back end of his comb looks like some schmutz on it. That's frostbite. Roosters with huge combs like his risk it in the winter. Each time he crowed, I crowed back at him "cock-a-doodle-doo!"

You'd be surprised how close that actually approximates his call! This second photo shows how he frequently does a major wing-flap before crowing. It's an impressive sound -- the air being forced through the wingfeathers, slapping on his sides just before he stretches out his neck and lets another "cock-a-doodle-doo" bust out. Wow!

Now, while I was interacting with Egglebert, Tweedledum pecked around at my feet, carefully watching the camera. He cocked his head to get a better look when the flash lit, seeming to assess the situation carefully. Then he left us for the other side of the pen.

Next thing I knew, a huge "flap flap flap" came from the other side, and then a froggy "cock-a-doodle-doo" which was decidedly not from Egglebert, who remained with me!

Sure enough, I caught Tweedledum in his wind-up, flashing those beautiful black and white wings, stretching his neck long, then pulling it back to tuck his chin before erupting in an adolescent croak -- "cock-a-doodle-doo!" I love the way his neck feathers are sort of a yellowy-tan color instead of white. It's subtle enough that I sometimes think he's gotten into something to taint them. And his black tailfeathers have the gorgeous green irridescence of a Black Australorp hen. He's quite a handsome fellow.

Well, Tweedledum kept up the crowfest, standing proud above the flock, showing off his pipes. Egglebert stopped crowing, perhaps stepping back to say "it's not high noon and I will not participate in a crowdown today!"

I realize now that I have heard Tweedledum crow in the morning some days when the windows were open. Now I'll recognize Egglebert's smooth, Sinatra-style crow as distinct from Tweedledum's rather Robert Plant/Led Zeppelin-esque pipes!


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