Monday, 23 July 2012

Why did the chicken peck the bowl?


Why did the chicken peck the bowl?

This seems like the first line of a joke of the “Why did the chicken cross the road?” kind. It isn’t. It was an experience I had recently.

I have a neighbour who sometimes has to be away. When this happens, I have looked after her 9 and 12 year old. This task also comes with numerous guinea pigs and six chickens. It was the children’s task to care for the animals and mine to see if all was okay.

One day, I noticed the water had run out for four chickens in a pen. The 9 year old reassured me chickens don’t need water. I assured him they do so I entered the pen.

Now we don’t tend to assume chickens are very bright, or at least I didn’t think much of their small, bird brains. I had cause to rethink.

On seeing me enter the pen, the high hen in the pecking order looked up at me then clucked it’s way over to the water bowl. She pecked the empty bowl, looked up at me, clucked again, pecked the bowl again and looked up at me.

Mere coincidence is possible but, in her own way, perhaps she was asking for water. With the bowl refilled, the four hens gathered around for a drink.

How many times have we judged without really knowing?

Prejudice can come in many forms. For the chicken, mine was a case of intellectual prejudice. After all, weren’t they just chickens?

When we look upon an old face, what do we see? Do our prejudices get in the way? Have we already made up our minds what to expect? Do we dismiss them?

When an elderly man died in a hospital geriatric ward, staff believed he had nothing of value to give. On looking through his possessions, they found he had left a poem. While of no monetary value, the words spoke of great love, wisdom and experience.

Perhaps you already know of this poem?

I want to share a link a Facebook friend shared with me. Whether the pictured man is the writer, I don’t know but the words are real. Read the poem and see through the eyes of one man looking out on the world.

To finish, why did the chicken cross the road?

Perhaps she was simply trying to leave us with an unanswerable existential question so she could chuckle to herself in her own chicken way. Who am I to judge her?

** Now I have some evidence we shouldn't underestimate the intelligence of chickens care of a link shared by my brother in the first comment below...

Chicken intelligence research reaps reward