Chickens are a never ending source of surprises and laughs. Just when you think you have them figured out, they lay an egg on a tractor. Credit: Julia Bayly / BDN

People decide to get chickens for two main reasons: they want daily, fresh eggs or seasonal home raised meat. But there’s an added bonus people don’t always tell you about — the pure comic relief a flock of backyard chickens provides.

Curious, easily distracted by the nearest shiny object and often wanting to be in the company of their humans, a chicken’s day provides a never ending series of delightful — and at times maddening — moments.

Here are eight times chickens made us laugh.

It’s more fun inside

At Kate McCormick’s homestead, Jake the dog is a chicken’s best friend. Credit: Courtesy of Kate McCormick

Most chickens in small, backyard flocks live out their lives quite comfortably in and around their coops in the company of their feathered friends. But every so often you run across a bird that marches to the tune of her own, special drum. That’s the case with an egg-laying hen in Waldo who took to breaking into her humans home every day to lay an egg in the upstairs bedroom on the bed. When not wandering around the house, the hen would hang out with — or on top of — the family dog.

A star chicken

Meet Mary, Maine’s poultry personality. Credit: Courtesy of Libby Hanley

The path to fame can be long and twisty. Or, it can be a simple matter of a classified newspaper advertisement that struck just the right funny bones at just the right time. That’s what happened to a chicken named Mary when her owner decided to have a bit of fun last spring and give her hen some exposure in black and white.

A very scared chicken

A smart chicken knows to run when it senses danger. But at least one decided to take a different tact. Credit: Julia Bayly / BDN

Chickens are very much a prey species and not known for having effective defensive strategies other than running away from trouble. But one chicken on Rusty Metal Farm displayed a rather unusual behavior when a loose sled dog ran at her. It was not a case of “fight or flight.” It was a case of “freeze and featherless.”

When an attack goes awry

This fox lost out on a chicken dinner. Credit: Julia Bayly / BDN

Speaking of being prey, chickens are on the menu for pretty much every predator in Maine. They are vulnerable to attacks from above by hawks or owls and from overland by coyotes, fox, raccoons, weasels and even domestic pets. Few things will stop a heart faster than the sight of a beloved chicken being carried off by a fox. But it does not always end in disaster for the bird. In at least one case, chasing the chicken-toting fox up and over a large snowbank created enough confusion that the fox actually spit the chicken out and took off. The excitement ended with a thwarted fox and remarkably unscathed chicken.

Making new friends

Chickens of all ages, sizes and breeds can live happily in one flock. And the interactions make great comedy. Credit: Julia Bayly / BDN

Introducing new chickens to an existing flock can be tricky. It takes patience and planning. But when done correctly it also provides some pretty good comic relief. The posturing, clucking vocalizations displayed by chickens getting to know each other is equal parts barnyard behavior and slapstick.

Not in my barnyard

Smokey the Blue Plymouth Rock chicken is not a fan of deer in her barnyard. Credit: Courtesy of Dawn Flagg

As in grammar, in the barnyard there is always something that’s an exception to the rule. On one Maine farm a chicken named Smokey has decided to push back against the stereotype of being scared or “chicken.” Instead Smokey decided one day to flex her wings and chase visiting deer off her human’s farm. Smokey is probably better off not knowing that her act of bravery was met with more laughter than awe.

Not every chicken is smart enough to come in from the cold

Not every chicken is smart enough to come in from the cold. Credit: Julia Bayly / BDN

Few things get on a farmer’s last nerve faster than an uncooperative critter. There is nothing fun about chasing down wandering livestock and herding them back to their barn or coop. It’s even less fun when it’s dark, snowing and freezing cold and the runaway is a contrary chicken. But what it sure provides some great comedic theater.

When a chicken personality stands out

Shoppie the chicken lives in her own, happy poultry world. Credit: Julia Bayly / BDN

Don’t let anyone tell you chickens lack personality. Each one has its own individual like, dislikes, quirks and habits. Most of which are pretty funny. On Rusty Metal Farm a chicken named Shoppie had personality plus. In a flock of special birds, she really stood out.

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Julia Bayly

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.