Margarita chicken is my favorite chicken. She is a White Faced Black Spanish – that is her in the front in the picture on this post. (BTW the black hen in the back is Bertha.) Margarita is more than friendly. She is a pet. She loves to be held and petted and will insist you pay attention to her at certain times of the day. Her favorite treat is dog food. She is about as engaging as a chicken can be.
Lately I have been putting Margarita in the main chicken coop at night due to a persistent racoon coming around and eating chickens that roost in trees. In the morning when I let all the birds out Margarita insists on having “breakfast in bed” which means I have to hold the grain up to her roost and let her eat her fill before she will fly down and join the rest of the flock on their daily rounds.
About a week ago I had just finished feeding Margarita her breakfast and had turned around to feed other birds when I heard this horrible squawk. I spun around and saw Margarita on the ground flapping and flailing in circles like a break dancer. Another hen, frightened by this behavior, had jumped on top of her and was attacking her. I quickly scooped her up in my arms and took her to the house.
It was obvious something was wrong. Margarita’s eyes were vacant and unresponsive. She could not walk nor stand – only tilt on her side. She was very uncoordinated. The only thing I could think of is she suffered a sudden stroke. She needed to be away from the other chickens and kept quiet so I put her in a large box in my office with a soft towel.
Who knows how much damage a small chicken brain can handle? Would she recover? Would she be the same friendly chicken if she did? Would she be able to take care of herself and roam the farm again? I could tell she was not in any pain and she was comfortable in the house due to being so tame. So I dedicated myself to nursing her back to health.
The first couple days were scary. Margarita could not stand and would not eat or drink. I took softened dog food and put it in her beak – once she tasted her favorite food she enthusiastically swallowed it. But she could not peck at it to pick it up herself. I was very worried but kept at it. After a couple days of hand feeding and watering she finally started eating and drinking on her own. But she still wobbled as she walked. I let her spend days in a small coop outside by herself where she could see the other birds. This seemed to interest her although she remained “confused” and “wobbly” most of the time. But I was seeing progress.
This morning when I went to my office to get Margarita I took a moment to turn on my computer and check my email. To my suprise Margarita started “talking” to me with soft little hen chirps. I said “good morning” back. I was at my computer for a couple minutes when I started to hear “knocking” on the cardboard box. Margarita was pecking on the box to get my attention. Clearly she wanted to be let out. And clearly she was getting better.
Margarita was a much improved bird today and when I retrieved her from the coop she came running up to me, pecking my pants leg for attention and making small attempts to fly up into my arms (still a bit wobbly on that one). As I write this she is sitting on my lap making content hen chirps. Its nice to have my friend back.