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Her Majesty, Perpetua

Perpetua is our first and oldest hen. She was living in a beautiful backyard with about 25 chicken sisters on the northside of Chicago when her human owner, a friend of ours, died suddenly. We had never cared for chickens before, but we'd been talking about trying it, and Perpetua needed a new home now that her dad was gone.

Perpetua joined our family on November 11, 2015. She immediately made herself comfortable and although she was never overly affectionate with her human caretakers, she was always pleasant, calm, and seemed content.

Perpetua is absolutely beautiful. Her breed is called Golden-laced Wyandotte. She has an adorable rose comb (the red part on the top of the head) and back when she laid eggs, they were incredibly small and pale - which was quite funny since she's always been our biggest hen!

Perpetua is the the leader of the flock. She is a quiet and subtle leader, never truly picking on others or making other hens feel scared or small... but it is clear that she is a boss. She is the first to eat when snacks are distributed, and she always gets her first pick of sleeping space. My favorite story of Perpetua's valor and dedication to her family occurred back in the winter of 2016 - we had four hens at the time - Perpetua and three babies, who were surely big enough to be outside, but were quite young and small. I was standing in the kitchen, which had a large glass door overlooking the yard. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw some kind of commotion in the yard, and quickly realized that a hawk was swooping through the yard. I ran outside, grabbing the snow shovel on the way out, and saw Perpetua running back and forth across the grass with the hawk following close behind. I swatted at the hawk with the shovel, not coming ANYWHERE near hitting it, but apparently close enough to scare it away. By then, Perpetua had run into the coop, so I closed and locked the door in case the hawk came back. Then I started my search for the three baby hens. They were NO WHERE. I looked in the back alley, the front yard, anywhere I could think. There was no sign that the hawk had taken them, but they seemed to have vanished... then I crouched down and peeked underneath the wooden stairs to the back door, and there were the three baby hens, huddled together, safe and sound.

There is no way to know the order of events with this hawk attack in the yard, but here's what I choose to believe: the hawk swooped down and Perpetua alerted the babies to hide for safety. She then ran around the yard to create a diversion so that the hawk would chase her, leaving the babies alone. I truly believe that Perpetua was attempting to sacrifice herself for the rest of the group. This is a well-documented behavior of mother chickens - they will literally lay out over their babies to provide a barrier from a predator. The most amazing part is that these were not Perpetua's babies. They were her flockmates, her family members.

We absolutely love Perpetua - her leadership, her dedication to family, and of course her beautiful feathers.


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