Dust bathing is a social bonding time for chickens and that’s when they seem happiest. Pure joy is the best way to describe it.
I treasure the moments when my barred rock, Mary Poopins, snuggles into a spot next to where I’m sitting and flings dirt and sand everywhere. When she makes contented sounds unique to dust bathing, rolls her head in the dirt next to me and kicks dirt into my lap, it doesn’t seem to matter that we’re different. She’s letting me in on what it’s like to be a chicken and it’s really nice when it’s time for a dust bath.
The times I have to freeze, point up and say, “Hawk,” not so much. They’re good about seeing them, but it never hurts to have a rooster and I’m glad they recognize me in that role on occasion. It reveals a lot about a species that can understand another species in that way; they have to know I’m someone to listen to, understand the reason for my behavior, comprehend the threat I’m referring to, and to respond appropriately.
I miss my other barred rock, Marty Poopins. He had to leave us last summer and I still cry. It was necessary though; a rooster’s job is to protect his hens and not to try to rip their heads off when face-to-face or chase them until close enough to flog them. Marty Poopins was not doing his rooster job, so he had to go. No question about it. However, I can’t help but blame myself. Was it sexual imprinting gone wrong? I can’t find any research on that between roosters and humans, so I’ll just have to wonder for now.
Perhaps there is too much interspecific bonding going on at my house. In the case of my Mary, it’s wonderful. With Marty, it was very bad for the girls.