|the new brooder|
But these birds truly do have distinct personalities right off the bat. Millie, who appears, like Gertie, to be either a Barred Rock or a Dominique, is the brash tomboy of the bunch. When I reach my hand into the brooder the rest generally chirp and scatter at first, but Millie comes running to see what new entertainment has appeared and then follows my hand wherever I move it. She is troubled by my wedding ring and pecks insistently at it and my freckles, my bracelet and the hair band around my wrist. She is always game to try a new taste treat and her appetite is massive, despite her small size relative to the others. It takes a lot of calories to fuel her mercurial activity!
|Gertie on her perch|
Gertie looks very much like Millie but is now nearly twice as big and has the most developed feathers of the lot. Overnight, she seems to add plumage, mostly on her wings, but today she is sporting the beginnings of tail feathers. Gertie is also an enthusiastic eater but more deliberate than Millie. She has a bit of a gimlet eye and a way of sizing you up that feels just so slightly judgmental. Gertie, perhaps because of her superior size, has been the first to avail herself consistently of the perch I made for them today, although Hattie is not far behind.
Hattie is the beautiful blonde of the bunch, most likely a Buff Orpington. She also has the softest, richest coat. Right from the beginning she was the groomer of the group, the one to spot a bit of dust or a splatter of yogurt on another chick's coat and to set about tidying up. When I reported this to a friend at work, she observed that Hattie was a typical blonde, concerned with appearances! Hattie also has the sweetest way of eating. One of the treats I give them is plain Greek yogurt, which they almost all adore, although it has been challenging finding methods of delivery that avoid getting yogurt EVERYwhere. One of the most successful has been simply to coat my fingertip in yogurt and let them peck it clean. Hattie, however, nestles her beak against my fingertip and wiggles it, scooping the yogurt in rather than pecking. As you can imagine, Millie has a vigorous pecking style.
|Hattie ("look at my feet!") and Sadie|
One other note about this week: I have never owned a bird before. Hank has. He had an African Grey Parrot when I first met him. But I've never lived with birds before and I'm finding that observing the chicks this closely has transformed how I experience all birds. I notice them everywhere--the way they move, their feather patterns and their songs. It has been open-window weather at our house this week. We are so lucky to be surrounded by bird habitat and, therefore, birdsong. This morning I awoke to three sharp cries outside the window that I instantly recognized (even half asleep) as alarm and outrage--they sounded so much like the cries the chicks make when one of the others has clumsily flapped over the rest or otherwise upset the peace in some particularly outrageous way. But as quickly as I registered the alarm I also realized that never before would I have identified those calls as alarms. Although the chicks and the robins don't speak precisely the same language, it was only because of my growing understanding of my own birds and their language that I could have any hope of interpreting the robins' calls. Yet another reason this has been an extraordinary week.