LOLchicks!

That little dish was in there for about a minute, and this one decided it was a nest.

They’re so funny.  You can see them growing in a matter of hours.  Their personalities are emerging.  I’m not inclined to name them until I know who gets to stay or until their names reveal themselves, but there’s a bossy one, a teensy one, a zippy one, and one of them looks just like an Amazonian spider from the top; I love the markings.  One when I pick it up struggles, peep peep peep, but when you stroke his/her head he/she goes to sleep, almost involuntarily.  Zzzz, then wakes up, “hey!”, struggles again.  Funny.

So easy to zero in on and forget time, just watching them be chicks.  They sleep like horses, standing up.  They just stop in the middle of going somewhere, the eyes blink and slowly close, then the head gets heavy and folds down with the beak tucking between the feet or else coming to rest on the ground.  The falling asleep side by side face down in the food trough is especially cute. Then they wake up and keep going, or else another bird bowls into them or into a group of sleepers.   All four in various stages of napping.  Note half step position on the left.You can pick one up while it’s resting, wide awake and scrapping, then set it back down in the same place and it’ll sleep again without taking a step.  When they really get into sleeping, the legs rock and fold until they come to “nest position” on the floor, but that’s more for night time.  The big two don’t sleep on their feet, they fold their legs the moment they have the intention of napping, with the effect of plowing with their momentum.  Flop!  And they crash into the resting clutch of birds that gave them the idea and wake them up.

I was in there looking at the big chicks towering like ostriches over the little puffballs, and their wings are well feathered out.  No sooner had I thought, I bet they’re strong enough to jump out of the box, than one flapped strenuously and leaped onto the edge of the board.  He/she immediately lowered into “roost position”, rocked queasily a couple times, whoa, and after a few seconds, tipped gracelessly back into the box.  As soon as he/she gained the edge of the box, the three strongest small chicks shot their necks up and hopped like kids, trying to do the same thing.  So funny.

They are so sweet and nice.  I expected blood feuds, I guess.  They sleep together in a big pile, the big ones resting their necks over the little ones, and sometimes the little ones burrowing to be underneath another.  I’ve seen little pecking, and the giant birds that are so outsized don’t ever abuse their size.  Those two scrap with each other, but never a peck at the smaller birds.  In fact, the clear alpha for a while was a little one, who was  real bully for one day, running around pecking maniacally at the other birds’ beaks.  It was so aggressive I put him in a quarantine box.  He was so distressed at being separated and screeched so loud and unstintingly,  I worried about stressing him.  But his pecking was so bad I was pretty sure he’d harm the others if I left him to it.  After a night alone in the box, the beak pecking magically disappeared, like he forgot about it.

They’re also cleaner than I expected.  I don’t find they make the huge mess I was led to anticipate.  Quiet, too.  When I come in it causes all havoc of peeping, but when I stay still they forget I’m there, go about their business obliviously, and sometimes settle down into complete silence.  I checked on them in the night and they were all settled in a scattered group, totally still and silent, although eyes opened to look at me.  Even though they have a 24hr light, they seem to have their bedtime clock already set, and they’re all settled together whenever I look after 8pm.  I like sneaking in to look at them at night, heads bobbing up when someone jostles, then fading back down again.

Lost two more though.  I don’t know why they’re dying, and it scares me, because they go so fast.  I dread finding a dead chick in the morning, body flattened into the sawdust, large with energy alive, tiny and weightless in death.  A bird totally unnoticeable in the rambunctious hoard suddenly standing and sleeping a bit longer than normal, and hours later face first in the shavings, eyes closed, mouth breathing.  One I quarantined because he was in really bad shape, not growing, could hardly hold his own in the flock, and teetery on his feet like he was impaired, but then when I put him in a box he ignored food and water and spent all his energy peeping and trying to push through the box to be with the others.  When I let him out he charged into the flock and obsessively pushed his head under the wings of the other birds, just determined to be under a wing, any wing.  It was odd and touching, but I separated him again when he was getting stepped on and pecked, and he died.  He was in really rough shape and I still thought he’d make it because he was so spirited and determined to be social, but he just wouldn’t eat.

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