One of the most anticipated effects of the eclipse was the impact on chickens.
OK, maybe not chickens exactly, but animals in general. What would our feathered and furred friends do as the sky grew dusky and the temperature dropped in a very untimely manner?
Bruce Balick, a University of Washington professor emeritus from the Department of Astronomy, predicted that at the height of the eclipse that “birds will roost as the sky darkens, sleep for a few moments, and then get up and start their next day.”
As an intrepid GeekWire reporter ready to risk it all, I selected chickens as a more easily observed wildlife proxy. In Seattle the eclipse wasn’t going to be complete, but would it still trick our bock-bock-bocking backyard companions into a midday siesta?
I decided to camp out at a friend’s coop and discover the truth.
As the first sliver of moon covered the sun, the four hens squawked and strutted around their pen in an air of mild discontent that most certainly had nothing to do with unusual solar phenomenon. They scratched at their dusty bedding in the warm morning sun.
Then the moon slid farther across the sun. Was it possible that the hens were settling a bit, huddling together as the summer day suddenly cooled? One bird ventured into the little nesting house at the side of the coop — was she sensing the dusk and its cue to roost?
Or did they cluster and nest because they were tired of being gawked at and photographed. Perhaps they finally realized that I hadn’t come bearing delectable kitchen scraps and was best ignored.
The fact is, that wee chicken brain is a riddle, wrapped in a downy mystery, inside a poultry enigma. I’m afraid I’ll never know if the eclipse befuddled the flock. And in the end, who really gives a cluck.