The baby Ameraucana chicks are three weeks old now. This past week they have been learning to go out on their own into the big world and free range. Seeing such small babies on their own can give a mother hen like me heart palpitations, but I can’t hold my little ones back. They need to understand how to find food, hunt for insects, avoid danger and return to the safety of the shelter at night. Although they are quite tiny, these chicks are old enough to be on their own.
The babies love freedom. They run together in a little flock. All twenty-three of the original hatch are still with us, hale and hearty. On a sunny spring day they sprawl in the sunshine lighting the barn doorway and spread their wings to collect the warmth. As a group, they move from place to place finding adventure and keeping in constant contact with a steady stream of peeps and chirps.
Thursday was the first time the little birds ventured from inside the barn out on the grass. Once this wonder was discovered, there was no stopping those chicks. They found the grass and greens delicious and also teeming with juicy bugs. I am teaching them to drink from a pan by sinking their plastic waterer in the center of a rubber dish full of water. The chicks have quickly caught on.
It is amazing how fast baby chickens grow. The tiny roosters already test their strength in mock fights. In no time the birds will be fully feathered and starting to fly. A baby chicken is actually quite a good flyer because its body is small and light in comparison to the size of the wings. This tends to give the small birds an advantage against predators. They are very good at escaping. Although they appear delicate, millions of years of evolution have made these small creatures tough and capable of caring for themselves.