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.