My chickens aren’t the best at sharing. Poor Rosie gets pecked often when she tries to eat from the same food trough/plate/source as Isabel. Bronwyn is more relaxed but sometimes she’ll chase both Rosie and Isabel away from anything she decides is hers (Bronwyn is a pretty zen head chook). Because of this disinclination to sharing, we now have 3 food containers in the garden hanging off the vegetable patch fence, so all 3 girls can eat at the same time without too much stress. (Rosie can still be chased from a good bit of grain but she simply moves to another container and keeps eating.)

The whistling doves have been coming into the garden forever and we frequently spotted them pecking under the food containers for any leavings. They knew chicken scraps might be good, but was there something even better to be had?

Yup, now they hop up and actually crawl into the food containers (old milk jugs) to eat their fair share!

Here’s a dove eating next to Bronwyn. When Bronwyn was full she wandered away.


Bronwyn oblivious to the whistling dove stealing grain

Bronwyn had been at the biggest feeder and the dove must have learned it offered the most comfortable dining experience. Before Bronwyn was 6 feet away, the dove hopped over to the big feeder. Then, unprompted, Rosie came and started eating from the feeder the dove just abandoned. Share and share alike.


Rosie more interested in her meal than the dove dining beside her

Neither chook bothered about the sweet little dove at all. Frank and I figure the resident pair can’t eat that much so we don’t care either. It’s nice to see our girls sharing, even if it isn’t with each other.

Then it got really funny. A couple of days after I snapped the photos above, I spotted a queue at the feeders. The whistling dove obviously understands that sharing is wonderful thing, but you still have to wait your turn.

3 chicken feeders, 4 birds

3 chicken feeders, 4 birds


About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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12 Responses to Sharing

  1. What a brilliant idea for feeders. I shall have to start saving my milk cartons. However we have 14 hens, so I’m not sure we would go as far as one each!!

  2. We started out with 1 milk carton that had holes cut in 3 sides and they actually would all 3 eat at once (ah the good ol’ days when they were young and innocent). Then Bronwyn would sometimes chase the other 2 away so we added a second carton for Isabel and Rosie to share. Then Isabel got pretty nasty (typical middle child syndrome) so we broke down and added a 3rd. They weren’t starving when they had to take turns but it broke my heart to watch Rosie standing back and whining (she whimpers when she’s left out) so up went feeder 3. But I’m not breaking down and adding a 4th for the doves no matter how cute they are 🙂

  3. word has got around that there is free food to be had in your backyard….You don’t attract the possums and such to the feeders?

    • I wish the bird’s stop gossiping up in them thar trees!

      Nope, nothing nocturnal seems to go for the feed. I sort of figured that if we left them out overnight they’d be empty by morning but so far we haven’t had to lock up the feeders (something I’m totally prepared to do). I guess the nocturnal creatures are too busy decimating my avocados and sunflowers to stoop to eating lowly grains!

  4. I love that you still have beautiful green grass. We are in a drought here in New Zealand and green grass seems a thing of the past.

    • The start of summer was so dry that it had me worried, then the rains came. The garden is loving it! I feel for you in a drought, there’s no amount of watering that can beat what mother nature does.

  5. The photo of the queue is a real treasure, I love it!

  6. Thanks, I loved it too. I never get tired of watching my birds and visiting wild birds in my garden, and when they interact, even if not directly, it’s like double the fun.

  7. That picture of the bird waiting it’s turn is priceless!

    • I guess you learn to be patient in nature. I guess it’s like waiting at a crowded restaurant on a Friday night for a free table – something I’m loathe to do – patience ain’t my game, certainly not when it comes to a good feed!

  8. vuchickens says:

    What a great pic of them all lined up! Too funny. My girls have never seemed to have a problem sharing, but I wonder if it’s because there are only 2 of them, so they feel they have to stick together and keep the peace? Or maybe it’s just the mystery of their different personalities?

    • Thanks.

      Isabel spent the first 6 months of her life being very submissive then she developed middle-child-syndrome and started picking on Rosie. I guess she really wants to be number one and can’t so is meaner than she needs to be.

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