13 Fascinating Facts About Chickens

Get a glimpse into the secret lives of the world's most popular poultry by learning these interesting chicken facts.
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Photo By: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Let's Talk Chickens

With more than 19 billion on the planet at any given time, chickens outnumber humans by almost 3-to-1. Our feathered friends provide eggs, companionship and, admittedly, we eat our fair share. But, this popular poultry has personality plus. How much do you know about this not-so-common bird?

Chicken Recognition

Chickens can tell each other apart and are able to remember as many as a hundred faces, both chicken and human. Cross a chicken and you’ve made the list, buddy.

Chickens Can Talk

"There are some juicy worms over here!" Over thirty vocalizations comprise chicken language, including distinct calls to warn of predators approaching by air or ground, as well as dinner suggestions.

Social Hierarchy

The term “pecking order” is not just a figure of speech. Chickens defer to the strongest, largest or most aggressive in the flock. Weaker birds will defer from nesting or feeding until the coast is clear.

Chickens are Modern-Day Dinosaurs

Chickens are the closest living relative of the T-Rex. Scientists have studied the DNA and found many of the gene markers with potential to be tweaked to develop teeth, tails and other traits of their Jurassic ancestors.

Perchance to Dream

REM sleep is observed in chickens, suggesting that chickens dream — possibly of the days when dino-chickens ruled the earth.

Now Where Did I Leave My Keys?

Chickens have “object permanence” and understand that items continue to exist even when out of sight. In humans, object permanence doesn’t kick in until about 9 months of age. This is why chickens don’t enjoy playing “peek-a-boo."

Hens are Good Mothers

Maternal instincts are common in chickens and they will begin talking to their chicks before they have left the shell. This motherly behavior has been lost in breeding from some hens who leave their eggs to be tended to by more welcoming mothers in the flock.

Earlobes Indicate Egg Color

It's believed that, with some exceptions, you can know the the color of eggs a chicken will lay by looking at the color of the chicken's earlobes (white earlobes = white eggs, red earlobes = brown eggs). 

Chickens are Easy to Hypnotize

Focused stimulation by rhythmic petting or repetitive motion can put a chicken into a trance-like state. When you wake up, you will cluck like a chicken.

Chickens Don't Have a Sweet Tooth

Chickens can’t taste sweet, but are sensitive to salty food. When it comes to snacking, chickens are less particular than one might guess and will happily eat just about anything they are offered.

Leg Color Can Indicate Age

The color of a chicken’s legs fade as it gets older, making it easy to spot birds that may be past productive laying age.

Chickens Can Fly

Sort of. The longest recorded chicken flight was 13 seconds long and spanned the length of a football field.

Chickens Like Structure

In a coop without a rooster, an “alpha” hen will take charge. The new chicken-in-charge will sometimes even develop rooster-like traits, including attempting to crow, being bossy and actually growing spurs.