These nine mama hens keep all kinds of babies safe and warm.
We can't imagine a better spot for a tiny orphan kitten, a tiny puppy, or a lost little duck than tucked under a mama hen when their own mom isn't available.
Any chicken owner knows that each chicken has their own personality, and each flock has a social structure. Why wouldn't a chicken care for a baby of another species in need?
"The inherently social nature of chickens enables them to socialize successfully with a variety of other species and to form bonds of interspecies affection. " writes Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns.
We know that adoptive mothers work out very well across many animal species. The parent-child bond is likely based more on exposure and familiarity than genetics. However, it's hard to tell whether animals raised by a chicken will grow up thinking of themselves as chickens rather than puppies or kittens or ducks. It's probably pretty unlikely but maybe these pictures will prove that theory wrong!
1. Mabel the mama hen and her puppies.
2. Fluffy red mama hen and puppy.
3. Hilda and her ducklings.
4. This mama hen also hatched ducklings.
READ MORE: 7 Reasons to Let a Broody Hen Hatch Eggs
5. This chicken mama's taking good care of baby pigeons.
6. This mama hen has a baby jackdaw.
7. This mama hen adopted some rhea chicks.
Never heard of a rhea? The rhea is related to the ostrich.
8. This chicken mama adopted some barn lions... er, kittens.
9. This mama hen has her wings full.
Mother hens have a centuries-old reputation for being very good mamas!
The Roman writer Plutarch describes mama hen and her babies together in the first century:
"We daily behold hens, how they cherish their chickens, taking some of them under their spread wings, suffering others of them to run upon their backs, and taking them in again, with a voice expressing kindness and joy."
Mama hens are fiercely protective of their babies.
"They follow their chicks with such great love that, if they see or spy at a distance any harmful animal, such as a kite or a weasel or someone even larger stalking their little ones, the hens first gather them under the shadow of their wings, and with this covering they put up such a very fierce defense-striking fear into their opponent in the midst of a frightful clamor, using both wings and beak-they would rather die for their chicks than seek safety in flight. . . . Thus they present a noble example in love of their offspring, as also when they feed them, offering the food they have collected and neglecting their own hunger." wrote Ulisse Aldrovandi in the 16th century, translated in The Chicken Book.
Who is your favorite mama hen? Has your hen ever adopted another baby species? Let us know in the comments below!
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