I’ve been rescuing chickens for ten years, but even now I make mistakes.


Witness poor Millie.

She was molting for the first time and feeling pretty miserable, so at bedtime I put her up on the “safety platform,” which is just a glorified storage shelf, above where the other birds roost. Since Millie is low bird on the totem pole, she likes it up there. No one can whack her while she’s sleeping. In the morning, I went to help her down, but she was reluctant to step into my hands to be lifted down. So I caught her feet and tried to get her down when she wasn’t ready.

Big mistake. She flew out of my grip, panicked, and landed badly on top of the waterer. She spent the next three days in the hospital box, recovering from a bruised leg, shock, and maybe a pulled muscle. I felt awful. I spent those three days apologizing while I offered her treats—a cut strawberry, a few blueberries, a nice bit of fish. She is the sweetest natured girl, and hurting her is the last thing I ever wanted to do. Lesson learned: the bird will fly down when she’s ready. Don’t force the issue just because you’re in a hurry.

Cut to two days later. I’m sitting in the sun and Millie jumps up in my lap for a snuggle, just as she always has. After a week of self-recrimination, and watching her to make sure she’s healing and what I’ve done isn’t permanent, I finally feel forgiven. She still loves me, even if her leg hurts.

She’s nearly completely healed now. And I learned my lesson the hard way.

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