An Essay on Chickens

Day 211 of 365

I hope that title isn’t click bait because this is not an essay on chickens, but I finished my essay on chickens–the one where I am trying to piggyback on that New York Times article. It took me longer than I needed it to. One must hurry if one is going to piggyback on an article. I am not good at hurrying. It’s very interesting, writing for popular presses. Good writing takes so much time and revision. I teach this all the time. Then, I go against all of that for these cycles in the media based on the short attention spans of people, and you just have to hurry, hurry, hurry. I have some friends who publish all the time, and I have no idea how they do it. I am not very good at it. But please cross your fingers for my chicken essay. I have to revise one more time tomorrow and then try so hard to find a home for it. I am trying to write about chickens for mainstream media. This is a long shot but feels interesting and important to me. I guess we will see if I can convince an editor that my essay is interesting and important.

And speaking of interesting and important, I wanted to share in my post tonight some of research findings from peer-reviewed studies on chickens.

This is a long quote from the Conclusions section of Lori Mareno’s meta-analysis in Animal Cognition. Isn’t number 7 so fascinating? It’s so true too!

1. Chickens possess a number of visual and spatial capacities, arguably dependent upon mental representation, such as some aspects of Stage four object permanence and illusory contours, on a par with other birds and mammals.

2. Chickens possess some understanding of numerosity and share some very basic arithmetic capacities with other animals.

3. Chickens can demonstrate self-control and self-assessment, and these capacities may indicate self-awareness.

4. Chickens communicate in complex ways, including through referential communication, which may depend upon some level of self-awareness and the ability to take the perspective of another animal. This capacity, if present in chickens, would be shared with other highly intelligent and social species, including primates.

5. Chickens have the capacity to reason and make logical inferences. For example, chickens are capable of simple forms of transitive inference, a capability that humans develop at approximately the age of seven.

6. Chickens perceive time intervals and may be able to anticipate future events.

7. Chickens are behaviorally sophisticated, discriminating among individuals, exhibiting Machiavellian-like social interactions, and learning socially in complex ways that are similar to humans.

8. Chickens have complex negative and positive emotions, as well as a shared psychology with humans and other ethologically complex animals. They exhibit emotional contagion and some evidence for empathy.

9. Chickens have distinct personalities, just like all animals who are cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally complex individuals.

2 thoughts on “An Essay on Chickens

    1. Thank you so much! It’s going to be a process for sure in order to find a home for it, but I’m gonna work hard and submit and submit. I submitted to two places today, but I am sure it’s going to take about twenty and some luck.


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