Cluck of the Week: Pecking Order

We all know, at least theoretically, that the pecking order exists. While it's most obvious in children and animals, adults establish it most rigidly. Who's on top, who sets the trends, who follows, who gets left out....

I see it personally when an invitation for a swank party goes to one friend and not the others, when certain families are always selected first for the top preschools or special activities, and when power remains in the hands of the few. The pecking order, while subtle at times, remains strong. But that's all under the radar stuff that those in charge quickly dismiss as other people's hurt feelings.

In nature, there are no emotions attached. It's just pure, primal instinct. That's where it gets interesting. For example, take Lulu and Fancy. By all rights, Fancy should be the boss. She's older and has gotten much bigger than Lulu -- yet, Lulu is clearly the dominant girl in our yard. Just watch this interaction:

After calling Lulu up, Fancy takes her place under the food, where she's
happy to eat what Lulu doesn't.

Emboldened by Lulu's messiness, Fancy ventures out from the bench.

But then Lulu remembers Fancy's there and elicits a warning bawk.

Fancy gets ghost.

Fancy shouldn't kowtow to Lulu, but that's what happens. Every time. If Fancy stumbles upon snacks that Lulu hasn't seen yet, she will immediately alert Lulu and then pace until Lulu gets her slow tail to the food. Only then will Fancy eat.

And if Lulu doesn't want to share? Well, you saw it. Fancy hightails it out of Dodge. Fascinating! I wish Maisy and Stella were still here because who knows how the order would play out then. And what if Fancy hadn't been attacked by a hawk? She was the clear leader then, and Maisy would've followed her anywhere.

Here's the lesson I'm learning: Sometimes your place in the pecking order is completely psychological. If you want more, you must be prepared to prove that you can take more. And if you aren't willing to duke it out for what you want, you have to settle for what you get.

As go the chickens, so goes the world.


  • Anonymous

    Aha! Indeed. Anything worth having is worth working for.

  • Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri

    Definitely. If you want it bad enough, you will always try hard enough. Totally loved the second to last paragraph Kelly.

  • Stacia

    "As go the chickens, so goes the world."

    That might just be the best closing line ever. Ever. It;s definitely going to be my new mantra.

  • Kelly Miller

    I'm reminding myself of this as I force myself to get back into an exercise routine this morning. It's not going to come find me, I have to find it. Work and reward. (Repeat, repeat, repeat.)

  • Hyacynth

    Having to agree with Stacia about that line. "As go the chickes, so goes the world."

    Totally agree about the pecking order, too. Often it is psychological. And that's something to consider when you feel like you're at the bottom.

  • BigLittleWolf

    I love this post! Wisdom, from chickens. Perfect day for it (in my feathery nest).

  • Liz

    It's like a sociology experience! Now we understand why scientists use animals to form their research hypotheses.

  • Draft Queen

    So very true. And yet, I'm always astonished by such behavior-- in chickens or otherwise.

  • Stesha

    Life lessons are learned from the strangest of things... in this case chickens:)

    Off topic: My children and I were just discussing the pros and cons of buying a chicken. It's funny that I landed on your blog today.

    Hugs and Mocha,

  • Unknown

    You are so wise.

  • Penelope

    Wow, those are great shots!


  • Cathy Reaves

    You are so right! You have to go after what you want. My husband has a saying (which has been very hard for me to accept BTW!) which goes: "To ask is no sin. To be denied is no calamity." Seems to be very similar in nature.

  • Liz Mays

    Even I'm afraid of Lulu now!

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