The story below comes from Keeping Chickens Newsletter subscriber Jackie.
Hi Gina - thankyou for sending the chicken newsletters, they are helpful and interesting. have kept chooks for many years, loved them well, but never attributed much in the way of brains to them until recently when I saw something extraordinary happen:A good friend had two elderly hens remaining from a small flock which had gradually dwindled from old age. His hens, Mrs Red and Mrs Brown, ran free most of the time and came to his door to look for food, especially when he was sitting there in the sunshine enjoying a roll-your-own cigarette. Mrs Red had raised many chickens and was admired as a good mother.
Jack, their owner, decided to do a trip away. He gave Mrs R and Mrs B to me to care for while he was away. They gradually integrated with my hens and rooster, and became part of the flock, especially Mrs Red, who is naturally bossy. She went clucky and raised chickens for me, and generally dominated the hen house.
It was nearly two years before Jack returned. He drove the car up my drive, parked behind the house, and got out. All the hens, about twenty in all, were just let out for their afternoon run, and were clustered round the door to the henhouse, about 20 metres up a hill from Jack's car. Quite suddenly Jack's two detached from the flock and RAN down the hill, straight up to Jack's feet, and looked up expectantly at him. I could almost hear them saying "OK - where's our dinner then?"
Whether it was the car, or Jack's voice, or the smell of his tobacco, or a combination, I dont know, but those hens remembered him perfectly - he had not been at my home while the hens were there, or fed them in that place. They had not done that to any other of the many visitors they had seen arrive over two years. Chooks have more brains than I thought!
Cheers, Jackie, North Hokianga, NZ