These animals are not primates, elephants, or whales, and yet they are said to possess cognitive skills that are more sophisticated than cats, dogs, and even some monkeys. This creature is so smart that it will even pass on knowledge based on its family’s own culture over the generations. It is able to understand concepts that call for strong intellect, and it learns by watching others in its species not unlike “monkey see monkey do,” but if it’s not a monkey, what is it? If you guessed chicken, (which I doubt many people did without looking at the photo) then you’re correct.
Yes, chickens. When speaking about them at meetings at the University in Australia, Dr Chris Evens who studies the behavior and communication between animals, says, “As a trick at conferences, I sometimes list these attributes, without mentioning chickens, and people think I’m talking about monkeys.” Many leading scientists studying in the field of animal behavior around the world agree that chickens are more inquisitive than many animals, and that they show self-control (a skill that a lot of us humans have yet to perfect), and unlike young children, chickens grasp the understanding that when an object is not seen, it still exists. They even wonder about and can be concerned by the future.
One study was conducted at the Silsoe Research Institute in England that involved several chickens and their ability to anticipate the future. Several hens were given colored buttons that if they pecked, would result in a small treat. If however, the hen waited a few seconds longer, she would be rewarded with a bit more food and, if she waited 22 seconds, she was given a much larger handful of treats. Author of the study, Siobhan Abeyesinghe, announced to Animal Planet News, “In their natural environment it may pay to get food while you can, before someone else does. But counter to this, we found that when a much larger food reward was delivered for the jackpot condition, hens chose it over 90 percent of the time, ruling out that they have absolutely no awareness of the near future.”
Chickens who are in “normal” situations-chickens who don’t find themselves trapped on factory farms-live together in social groups that are defined by dominance in “pecking orders.” Every individual in the flock is aware of where he or she stands in rank, and they even have the ability to recognize the faces and statuses of over a hundred other birds!
People who own chickens (including myself) often claim that each chicken has a different personality, just like any person. Some are shy, others are outgoing, and so on and so forth. It’s clear that we don’t give these birds much credit, but they are indeed special. Even Dr. Christine Nicol, another scientist involved in the field of chicken intelligence, says, “They may be ‘bird brains,’ but we need to redefine what we mean by ‘bird brains.’ Chickens have shown us they can do things people didn’t think they could do. There are hidden depths to chickens, definitely.”
Animal Planet (www.animal.discovery.com)