Chickens on the Hunt


Chickens spend much of their day hunting. I was turning and adding leaves to a compost pile. Lucky spotted me working and came running, her chicks in tow. She knows that when I’m turning a compost pile, the hunting will be easy.


In the short clip below, you can see Lucky plucking earthworms out of the ground and dropping them for her chicks to devour. You can also hear the staccato clucking sound mother hens make when they’ve found something good to eat. The louder the sound, the more delicious the food. Watch how excited Lucky gets when she finds a big worm. Chicks seem to know from birth what this sound means.

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How is the meaning of a sound transferred via instinct? If we could figure this out, maybe we could change our DNA so that we could encode hundreds of languages so that children would be born knowing English, Chinese, Japanese, German, French, Swahili, any language you could imagine. Entire encyclopedias inscribed in our genetic code so that as our brains develop all this knowledge would be at the tip of our tongues.

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