Thursday, September 8, 2011
Do I Know You?
We all have those friends we can recognize without even seeing them up close. Maybe it is the way that they walk, their physique, their familiar voice, or even their laugh. Regardless, our brains find ways to remember those we have met and know, so that we can easily recognize and distinguish them in a crowd. Chickens have a way of identifying one another as well, by their combs and accompanying facial features. Gallus Domesticus is Latin for chicken. It seems fitting, as gallus means comb.
Chickens lack the ability to sweat. They pant like dogs and release much of their excess heat through their wattles and combs. As their blood circulates through the comb and wattle, it is cooled. In addition, combs help chickens select their mates and also signal when pullets are of age to lay their first egg. Depending on your source, there are eight to ten types of combs including the single, carnation, rose, pea, v-shaped, cushion, buttercup, strawberry, silkie and walnut. Every chicken comb is unique. It is like a fingerprint on a human. In one study, scientists covered the combs of an existing single breed flock. Amazingly, the pecking order was disturbed and the chickens failed to recognize each other. Once the combs were uncovered, the flock reverted back to its original state.
After keeping chickens, it is clear that they recognize and distinguish me from other people. I know that they recognize my voice. As I do not have a comb, do you think they possibly recognize me by my hairstyle too? One thing is for sure, I know that they do not like it when I wear my sunglasses. When they see me coming with my shades on, they sound the alarm!
Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest