Along with the feet, the beak is the chicken’s primary tactile connection to the world. Chickens use their beaks to explore, to forage for food, to preen themselves, and for social interactions. If you’ve ever watched a chicken picking up grains, you’ll have noticed how fast and accurate they are with their built-in tweezers.


Listen as UnCooped co-curator Abbie Rogers explains the basic parts of a chicken's anatomy with Sam, a rooster who lives at Goat Mountain Ranch Sanctuary in Leicester, North Carolina. Then see other chicken behaviors such as: 


Chickens love to sunbathe and, like dustbathing, it is often a social behavior.  Aside from its purely pleasurable aspect, sunbathing is also thought to maintain feather health.  These happy hens are sunning themselves at Goat Mountain Ranch Sanctuary in Leicester, NC.

Hen & chicks

Mother hens guide their chicks to food through demonstration and soft vocalizations.  The chicks, imprinted on their mother, look to her as their primary role model.  Hens also protect their chicks with great devotion, either sheltering them under her wings or attacking a predator to drive it away.  Mother hen Lulu was very wary of the cameraman (someone she doesn’t know), and stayed on the alert for the entire filming session at Goat Mountain Ranch Sanctuary in Leicester, NC.


In this video, Hugh, a rooster at Goat Mountain Ranch Sanctuary in Leicester, NC, hears other roosters announcing their locations and responds in kind.  Roosters crow to help establish territory in relation to other roosters.

Mating display

Roosters will usually initiate mating with a courtship dance in which they drop a wing to the ground and dance in a circle around the hen.  If the hen is receptive to mating, she will crouch down for the rooster to mount her.  Unfortunately for Hugh, these hens both snub him.


Chickens preen themselves and each other to “comb” their feathers and spread body oils.  Allopreening (preening each other) also reinforces social relationships.  In this video clip, the white hen seems to be removing a piece of food or debris from her companion’s face.  Both hens live at Goat Mountain Ranch Sanctuary in Leicester, NC.


Sam, the rooster on the outside of the fence, has found food, and Petunia the hen cannot figure out how to get to it.  She paces the fence anxiously and expresses her agitation through vocalizations.  Sam and Petunia live at Goat Mountain Ranch Sanctuary in Leicester, NC.