Grabbing a rain-less moment, I ventured to the backyard to scoop dog poop.  As I waded through the wet grass, I hear a noise “B-ah b-ah b-ah.”   I peered into the rambled mess of blackberry brambles in the far back corner . . . .   And there they were . . . four chickens milling and clucking quietly.   Overjoyed, I said, “Well, Hi!” to which they cranked up their chicken necks and made more noises — as if they were saying “Hi!” back. 

I crouched and talked to them softly.  Not frightened at all, they came closer to check me out too.   A red one, a black one, a golden one and a creamy fluffball toddled out of the brambles.  Thrilled, I ran inside to grab my phone to take a photo . . . which of course I send to anyone who might give a darn. 

Apparently as intrigued by me as I was by them, they came all the way out of the bushes and began checking (and pecking) my back forty.  I made my way through the brambles to see if I could see where they came from . . . and discovered a small space between the fences separating my yard and a neighbors’.

The neighboring house is a rental, with high tenant turnover.   Not sure if they belonged to the current tenant, nor caring, I went inside to see about getting them food and water.  I snagged an old dog bowl for water and set it out.  Immediately, the red and black chickens hustled over, plunged their beaks in, then threw their necks back and drank.  I was fascinated! 

Back to the house I went in search of food . . . lettuce?   Sure, chickens eat that!  I ran back out and presented them with shredded lettuce.   Nothing.  Nope, they don’t like the lettuce.  They be-bopped off across the yard. 

Okay, chickens eat seed.  Having two parrots, I have a mix for them chock-full of various seeds.  I filled a small bowl with it and took it to my visitors.   They loved it!   Maybe it was my imagination but I swear their little eyes got as big as pie.  All four pecked hungrily at the seed. 

Captivated, I watched them dine . . . noticing that there is such a thing as a pecking order and that the creamy fluffball seems to be the outcast.   Occasionally the others angrily peck at her and she backs off.   I throw her a small handful of seed away from the three “bullies”, and she ventures over and pecks away in peace.

When the seed is all gone, they explore the yard and eventually disappear back into the blackberry-bush jungle.  I peer through and see them preening their feathers, appearing very content. 

I re-fill the bowl with parrot seed and make a little spot for food and water for them in the far corner of the yard.  Going about my day, I check on them from time to time.  They remained in the bramble til dusk.  Then, one by one, they squeezed back through the fence and were gone.

Vonnie Harris is a freelance writer, and operator of Pet Stop Pit Stop pet sitting services of SW WA. She and her brood, Jake and Jessie, both yellow Labs, parrots Pedro (Yellow-Nape Amazon) and Lorali (African Grey) and four endearing chickens reside in Vancouver. Vonnie is “the face of Spot” at many Portland-area pet-related events, and the voice of Spot in social media outlets.