Puzzler: Why do chickens peck at blank walls?

April 2008

Why do chickens  persist in pecking at blank (OK, dirty) walls when they have dirt to scratch in, food near by, flies buzzing happily around to snatch, and warm sun to stretch out in? Having noted several similarities between humans and the avian kingdom does this puzzling behavior also cover both species? Are they making music or merely doing the equivalent of beating their heads against the wall? This puzzler’s prize will be a Bavarian Rum Creme pie (maybe two because the winner will have to share with me). Chicken Lady

Chicken Lady’s readers have provided a number of answers. Jim says, “Chickens peck at walls for the same reason they cross the road: their caretakers refuse to provide TV, leaving them with only blank walls. When an animal’s level of frustration rises to hitting its head repeatedly against the wall, expect a visit from the ASPCA or PETA.” Sam: “Clearly they are searching for hidden gold. Being chickens, they have only heard the rumors of its existence. Still, they are unwavering in their pursuit; having searched the dirt nearby, they know that the gold must be hidden away elsewhere. Being driven, they neglect their food and flies. These chickens are not bored.”

Searching for gold? Pecking out Morse Code?

Kathy: “Dear deluded folks — The chickens are not scratching for anything. They are bitter and thus are turning to Morse Code to discuss the latest atrocities like the fowl language being used by the chicks or the lack of decent talk shows on the radio stations that Chicken Lady listens to. I would definitely watch your backs.”

Chicken Lady responds: “Even chickens have a sense of humor and they possibly are pecking at the wall so they can laugh as they watch me try to figure out what they are doing.It’s a strange feeling to turn around and all the birds with their heads cocked, watching, just watching. The pie is still up for grabs, but the current responses will be hard to beat.”

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