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Are We Smarter Than A Chicken?

Updated on August 15, 2014

It occurs to me that we are a lot like birds these days. Fowls have a lot to worry about when it comes to someone robbing the hen house, and so do humans when it comes to someone robbing their nest eggs.

The problem with humans though is, while we pride ourselves on being the highest mammal in terms of pecking order, the bird brains know some basic things we can't seem to get right. You see, they know who their real predators are, while we invite the financial foxes of the world right in our hen houses.

Never Underestimate A Chicken

For those of you who didn't spend a lifetime, communing up close and personal with feathered friends, you may be misinformed about the intelligence of birds. You may be also have been led astray about how complex their lives are, from the moment of birth.

Before I point out in detail why the chicken might be the smarter of us, let's take a closer look at what you might not know about chickens -- and why their world applies to our current financial crisis.

Chicks - “Boys, I may not know much, but I know chicken shit from chicken salad.” ~ President Lyndon B. Johnson ~
Chicks - “Boys, I may not know much, but I know chicken shit from chicken salad.” ~ President Lyndon B. Johnson ~ | Source
Chicks hatching - “Business is never so healthy as when, like a chicken, it must do a certain amount of scratching for what it gets”   Henry Ford quotes (American industrialist and pioneer of the assembly-line production method, 1863-1947
Chicks hatching - “Business is never so healthy as when, like a chicken, it must do a certain amount of scratching for what it gets” Henry Ford quotes (American industrialist and pioneer of the assembly-line production method, 1863-1947 | Source

First You Need To Understand and Speak A Secret Language

The majority of the human population doesn't know that chickens can talk and that they have a rich vocabulary, despite the fact that it is short on words. Their approximately thirty word known lexus is far more precise in definition, and completely common knowledge among those with feathers -- than our financial literacy in our language.

Whereas, the average English speaking human's twenty thousand word vocabulary is not always clear-cut, and is also not always commonly understood or communicated properly. There's a lot of double-speak among us.

Furthermore, among a chicken's many alarm vocalizations, they are able to convey not only the type of predator approaching, but also whether it is arriving on foot, by air, or by water. Unlike them, the enemy can be one of our very own, and very often we don't know it's got us until it's too late.

Our feathered friends always know when a fox-like predator is in their hen house. We humans, might have lost that ability, because we over-think or under-think our dangers. We allow ourselves to believe that someone else has solved a problem, acted in our best interests, and that we don't have to worry (because somebody else has bailed us out).

Chicken Speak

If you were a chicken, here are ten examples of what you would succinctly know how to say:

  • From the day before your birth the word "Peep" -- You'd peep continuously to let your mother and siblings know your birthday has arrived. This lets mom you are OK, so that she doesn't freak out when you break your nest egg. Just like a great big hug, mom will stay there on the nest as long as you keep peeping until you get out of your shell.
  • Mutual Post Birth Peeps and Clucks -- Since your birthday is a multiple birth event of sometimes huge proportion, you and your mom would peep and cluck back and forth as you explore your new world. Just like a human mother hen, your mom would know from the poignant timbre of your peep how scared you were, or if you were feeling lost. She would be also listening closely by counting how many times you peeped for signs that you may be in trouble. Her clucks would both reassure you and help you keep track of how far away she was, or if she spotted danger.
  • Bedtime clucks -- If you were still a young chick, your mother hen would have a special bedtime cluck that would let you know when it was time to come in from the coop's play yard and give life a rest. Unlike your human counter-part, you'd not be trying to get by with staying up after hours, as you instinctively would know to do that, could result in your untimely death.
  • Nesting clucks -- Women and hens have their own language when calling or inviting their mates to join them in finding a place to nest. The difference maybe between us, is that the real life rooster always helps her find and create the perfect nest. Side-by-side, they dig an impression in the ground with their beaks and feet. Then, they pull and toss around twigs, feathers, hay, leaves, and earth. Not all human roosters are quite so into the language of nesting instincts.
  • Ancient touchy snarls and tender reassuring hen squawks -- Not to be left out in the nesting search, when the rooster thinks he's found the perfect place to start a home, he guards it, by sitting on it. Then he rocks from side-to-side, as he turns in a slow circle, pleading with touchy snarls to his hen, that we are "home at last." In the world of fowl, the hen always has the last say in such monumental decisions. She's wise enough to let her rooster know though, that she appreciates his efforts by making short and tender reassuring hen squawks with her beak open -- that are as subtle as the Chinese language in terms of meaning, when the tone drops to a lesser intensity.
  • "The I've Laid An Egg Cackle" -- With this cackle-announcement, the rooster comes to inspect, and give her a congratulatory escort back to the rest of his harem.
  • The Lonely Squawk -- The best of hens will give the lonely and loud squawk, if her rooster is absent too long, that will send the most absent-minded of males rushing to her side to see what is wrong.
  • The Rooster's Come and Get It Clucks -- This series of small short selective clucks tell the hen that papa has dinner ready.
  • The Rooster's Chicken Hawk Whistle -- With one eye always alert to shadows overhead, the rooster will whistle, or even make a sort of growling sound to indicate a hawk or owl is on the prowl.
  • The Dessert's Here Cheer!-- Feed chickens supplemental corn or other delights long enough, and you'll soon discover they have a certain pattern and call to each other, when one of them spots you approaching.


Chickens Are Good At Problem Solving

In our currently tumultuous financial times, we might not be practicing good problem solving. Chickens are good at problem solving. They make it their business to know the score and act accordingly.

Chickens understand:

  • When to run for shelter
  • When to fly high
  • When to roost in the trees instead of the hen house
  • How slowly and persistently pecking gets results
  • When the fox (raccoon or opossum) is in the hen house, and take appropriate measures
  • That an object when taken away and concealed, still exists
  • When to gather as a flock for the common good
  • When to separate as a flock for the common good
  • They have rich social groups, that accept that there is pecking order, because everyone has their role, and is valued among the flock
  • That patience is the key -- if you are going to hatch a good egg, you've got to both know how not to smash the egg when you sit on it; and how long you'll need to sit
  • How to sacrifice for the "long term" -- watch any mother hen sitting on a nest, giving up her freedoms for the future
  • That no matter how hard you try, life is certain in that predator attacks, will happen from time to time
  • Who are their friends -- they can recognize hundreds of other chickens, and remember each of their faces
  • Who are their enemies -- they not only recognize them, but their methods of kill and how to evade capture
  • The need for oversight -- they have both rooster, older hens, and their human friends and each other to watch their feathers


Who Is Minding Our Hen House?

Weeks ago our lawmakers in a desperate need to look like they were doing something to restore consumer confidence, approved the U.S. Treasury's weighty bailout of banking institutions and financial firms.

On the surface, they made a big deal about the "safeguards" built into this legislation for minding our financial hen house. Yet, in reality, there is still little oversight in how all this money that is being handed out, is accounted for.

What good is a Financial Oversight Board of five members with no staff, and no accountability for themselves, and what are they going to do for those of us picking up the tab?

Even more troubling is that the banking institutions who got the bailout have already spent over $32.4 million lobbying the federal government earlier this year.

Not only have they not said they won't continue to spend millions on lobbying the federal government (millions of our dollars), but isn't this a repeat of history?

Isn't this exactly what happened with taxpayer dollars in the whole AIG debacle of government backed loans -- didn't we learn anything when they continued to use our money to lobby our government?

The world is watching, supposedly Washington is watching -- Yet, they who helped get us in this mess in the first place, have little accountability, and need to have their feet held to the fire.

Now There Is A Long Line to Get In the Hen House

At the head of the line for the next bailout, seems to be the big three in the auto industry. Why not, it worked for the mortgage lenders, AIG, and the banks?

There's a trickle down effect, various headlines now read: States, county governments, and mayors are lobbying and demanding for assistance. There's talk of a new economic stimulus package -- Remember the last one that didn't do much to stimulate the economy, since most people needed it to hold off foreclosures and debt collectors.

Just makes you wonder who is going to bail us out, when we have to pay for all of this -- when jobs and companies are disappearing daily, and retirement savings and stocks we once counted on, are all but gone?

Mother hen with chicks - “Chicken one day, feathers the next”
Mother hen with chicks - “Chicken one day, feathers the next” | Source

Martina Navratilova Said It Best

"The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. the chicken is involved; the pig is committed." ~ Martina Navratilova

Those who have been given the power to make decisions on how best to solve our nation's current financial crisis are involved up to their proverbial eyeballs, but we (and future generations) are committed to pay the price.

Who Has Us By the Neck?

Mother hen with chicks - Did anybody really ask those who will be paying off this debt for generations, for permission to sign our names on the dotted line?
Mother hen with chicks - Did anybody really ask those who will be paying off this debt for generations, for permission to sign our names on the dotted line? | Source

Where Does the Bulk of the Chicken Feed Go To?

We became a world power after World War I, solely because we owned the debt of other countries. Some countries, like the U.K. declined during the same period of time, because  of how much debt they owed other countries.

Think of debt to a foreign country, being like owing the chicken thieves, who in the middle of the night, rob the hen house of it's future eggs. The amount of debt we owe other countries is in part, why we are in the financial shape we are in today.

If you were to ask the average American, if we owe debt to foreign countries, and how much -- First, they'll look at you like you have grown two heads, because they aren't aware that we owe any money to other countries. Why? We are the richest people on the planet to hear the most patriotic of our people tell the mythical tale. The concept of how much we currently owe to foreign government and investors, is beyond the average American's comprehension. We owe a staggering near $3 trillion to other countries, that continues to grow everyday!

Here are just some of the facts about some of who we (the taxpayer) owe:

  • Brazil $146 billion
  • Caribbean Banking Centers $148 billion (Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Netherlands Antilles, Panama, and British Virgin Islands)
  • China $542 billion
  • Japan $585.9 billion
  • OPEC Nations $180 billion(Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Venezuela)
  • United Kingdom $308 billion

If we can't take care of ourselves, how are we going to take care of this debt and the interest, that it continues to accrue?

Furthermore, how does our relationship with our creditors and the rest of the world change, when we owe them? What kind of position does that put us in, at the bargaining table during world conflicts?

In the world of chickens, I doubt any chicken would have placed their flock in danger like this, by making themselves so vulnerable. I don't know about everyone else, but I find it troubling that we would owe debt to countries in which we have political problems brewing or escalating, and countries with doubtful leaders in charge.

Now Who Is The Bird Brain?

Maybe some in power are counting on the fact that the majority of us are not smarter than a chicken? Maybe they figure we're a bunch of bird brains who won't figure it out until every nest egg is gone? In thinking on all of this, I can't help but be reminded about the old ye haw Texas euphemisms, old President Lyndon Baines Johnson used to pull out of his ten gallon word hat:

First you heard him say:

"Boys, I may not know much, but I know chicken shit from chicken salad."

Later, you heard him say:

"Son, in politics you've got to learn that overnight chicken shit can turn to chicken salad."

I don't know who, or how, but someone better be making a big batch of chicken salad up in a hurry -- if we're going to get back on the right path, and stop worrying about shoveling chicken shit.

Chicks | Source

Marla Laid An Egg

Chickens of Fire


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    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks Mr. Nice for your comments! You might be right.

    • Mr Nice profile image

      Mr Nice 

      10 years ago from North America

      Hi Jeri lee wei,

      Thanks for becoming my fan. Very interesting hub I believe at current situation we need golden egg laying chickens to get out this recession. Stimulus package means government borrowing more & stimulating the citizens to borrow more too.

      Here is a paragraph from my hub about recession...

      Howard Davidowitz, believes American's standard of living will change permanently because of the following factors:• An $8 trillion negative wealth effect from declining home values.• A $10 trillion negative wealth effect from weakened capital markets.• A $14 trillion consumer debt load amid "exploding unemployment", leading to "exploding bankruptcies."As a result, American economy is in a major recession or worst may be an actual depression.

      For more details please visit my hub......

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks issue veritas! I loved your comment, sadly it's so true.

    • profile image

      issues veritas 

      10 years ago

      Jeri Lee

      I like the cartoon art

      We are like chickens because you are either forced to lay eggs (pay taxes) or you are on the dinner plate (served between political parties as a snack till they can serve pheasants).

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks earnestshub!

    • earnestshub profile image


      10 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Great hub on the economy, and chickens. We always had lot's of chickens when I was a kid, especially my dad's collection of colorful bantams. All of them smarter than our politicians.Nicely written hub as usual jerilee.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks Sharon3rd! Don't feel bad, lots of Americans think the same thing. I think part of the problem now is that we've been making like ostriches, leaving those in charge to kick sand in our financial eyes.

    • Sharon3rd profile image


      10 years ago from Talladega, AL

      I feel retarded, I thought all those other countries our there owed US money. Maybe we should just do like the ostrich and hide our heads in the sand.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks Gardener Harold! I'm thinking this week's a lot of CS from the looks of the nightly news.

    • Gardener Harold profile image

      Gardener Harold 

      10 years ago from Southern Ontario Canada

      Fantastic good outlook on government BS or is it CS in this case?

      Totally enjoyed the chicken dance.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks sarah-michi! Chickens and politicians can both be very entertaining.

    • sarah-michl profile image


      10 years ago from Michigan


    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks Ken Devonald! That's interesting about chickens and the UK. So far I haven't seen any U.S. shows on chickens, but then most of our popular shows are copies of shows in the UK, like American Idol, etc.

    • Lgali profile image


      10 years ago

      very good hub

    • Ken Devonald profile image

      Ken Devonald 

      10 years ago from Edinburgh

      Thanks for this great hub - although I have grown and eaten most poultry I do think they are the most under-rated animals. We in the UK are having a bit of a boom in chicken keeping, fuelled in part by the various food programs that show how badly reared the majority of food birds are. There have been programs on tv where the audience participate in the various activities that go into rearing food birds, starting with sexing the day old chicks from the egg breeds. There is a lot of cooing and aaahhhing until the table with the male chicks have to gas them.

      As to the economics of today, we have a government that has increased demand for housing by giving investment and tax breaks. This has led to increased prices, and the government has cheered everyone on by saying how stable and good the situation is. Now people are overstretched, and the government are going to support homeowners who lose their job. It may be harsh to say this, but by supporting these unfortunate people who have over-stretched their finances, they are still trying to keep the house prices artificially high.

      Thanks again!

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks nightcats! Creative I admit to, but being an old hen might be more appropriate than a smart chick.

    • nightcats profile image

      June Campbell 

      10 years ago from North Vancouver

      What a great hub! Your are hugely creative. I could say you're a smart chick but that would be soooo bad!

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks gwendymom! Some of those making decisions for all of us, certainly aren't smarter than chickens.

    • gwendymom profile image


      10 years ago from Oklahoma

      What a great way to help explain the finacial crisis this country is in. It looks like we may not be smarter than chickens.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks C. S. Alexis! I don't have any chickens since we retired early but I miss them.

    • C.S.Alexis profile image


      10 years ago from NW Indiana

      I found your use of chickens in this hub quite fascinating. Great job. I have a particular interest in the birds with a cartoon story I was working on before my art studio was wiped out by a flood. Your hub made me miss my SKIN E. CHIK hubs. C.S.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks Rochelle Frank! -- You might enjoy some of my other chicken and rooster tips, if you haven't already visited them. You really can tame a mean rooster -- may be of interest.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      10 years ago from California Gold Country

      Excellent. I'm going to study this a bit more, we have had chickens for about 3 years. The five chicks were "certified' to be 98% hens. We beat the odds and got one big beautiful black rooster who is noisy, aggressive and cocksure.

      We decided to keep him when I saw him doing battle with two dogs that had sneaked under the fence. The hens were cowering in the corner, and the dogs ran off with scratched noses.

      I'm going to have to study their language a bit more closely.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks KDorfman!

    • KDorfman profile image


      10 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      That was really clucking good.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks Kulsum Mehmood!

    • Kulsum Mehmood profile image

      Dr Kulsum Mehmood 

      10 years ago from Nagpur, India

      A Great Hub jeri. I liked the videos.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks Madison Parker! -- Couldn't agree more, although I see some glimmers of hope amongst fellow hubbers, but even in that, has more rocks than mountains.

    • Madison Parker profile image

      Madison Parker 

      10 years ago from California

      Thanks for the very interesting hub. I'm not sure many Americans are smarter than a box of rocks, to quote Dr. Phil! Just take a look at the television ratings. Some of the most benign crap to cross the airwaves have high ratings. Enough said!

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks glases4boomers! -- I see you speak chicken.

      Thanks Nolimits Nana!

    • Nolimits Nana profile image

      Nicolette Goff 

      10 years ago from British Columbia

      Loved your approach to the current economic situation. And you're right about the chicken 'talk'. I looked after chickens for several years when I was a child on the farm, and they certainly clucked a vocabulary.

    • glasses4boomers profile image


      10 years ago

      wow, what a great way to present a topic of great concern.

      Bock, bock.....

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks brad4l! Chickens are quite capable of recognizing not only their own, but being able to tell one human from another.

    • brad4l profile image


      10 years ago from USA

      Interesting post. I used to have several chickens and I think you are right about them being smarter than a lot of people give them credit for. They actually got to know me, recognize me, and because I protected the little ones from the bigger ones, I think there might have been a little maternal feeling there.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks for the comments mariane14!

    • mariane14 profile image


      10 years ago from USA

      i dont really like chickens. they are just like the people that runs our government. they are fun to look at but when we grip them to their necks because of their shit, they wiggle out away from us.

      chickens are like the pigs too, we like to consume them but in the long run they leave us dreaded deseases. just like our government, we all seem to enjoy it but in the end... it's our ass that's at stake..

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks Benson Yeung! Chickens can be deceivingly beautiful and smart.

      Thanks Ann Wright! Chickens and other animals have an innate native common sense some of our leaders are lacking.

      Thanks trish1048! There are no easy answers and we need to hold those in power accountable or continue to pay a heavy price for generations to come.

    • trish1048 profile image


      10 years ago

      Excellent hub Jerilee, worthy of sending it to our Presidend-elect :)

      I loved the pics you used, and the chickens of fire was great!  Makes me want to adopt chickens instead of eating them!

      Seriously, our country is in quicksand.  Every attempt (if there really is any) to get us out of this self-created mess is getting us nowhere.  I'd say our leaders are running around like chickens with their heads cut off.  Very sad state of affairs.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Ann Wright profile image

      Ann Wright 

      10 years ago from Northern Nevada

      Really enjoyed your article. I grew up with chickens and respect their ways. Your sidebar about the different voices is excellent!

      As to how chickens relate to the national debt? I don't know. I know our hens were always reliable producers--gathering the eggs each day was a miracle of "productivity" (if you will) to me. Feed them well, keep the hen-house stable, and the hens lay eggs. Upset them, and they don't.

      Obviously, our economy is big-time upset.


    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 

      10 years ago from Hong Kong

      Interesting point of view.

      I might look smarter than most chickens. Looks are deceiving though.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks Donna Bass!

    • Donna Bass profile image

      Donna Bass 

      10 years ago from Florida

      Cool article.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks Aya! I always try to mix a little lagniappe into my subject batter. I was left wondering about the indexing myself and was suspicious that this was deliberate manipulation of figures. I always struggle with having been raised to ask a question keeping in mind that you should also offer some hint at solutions at the same time -- I just don't know. You always ask the best questions.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      10 years ago from The Ozarks

      Jerilee, great hub -- and an unusual juxtaposition of ideas: chickens and debt.

      The odd thing about these debts to other nations is that they seem to be indexed to the dollar, rather than foreign currency. Is this how our government hopes to get out of its obligations? By devaluing the dollar? What do you think?

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks Scottie JD, justmesuzanne, and RGraf!

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      10 years ago from Wisconsin

      Very good and unique way to present this. I've got to reread this one! Good work.

    • justmesuzanne profile image


      10 years ago from Texas

      Before I even scrolled down and saw what Scottie, said, I was going to say, "Fascinating!" What an innovative concept in introducing and explaining this dreadful situation! Well done! :)

    • Scottie JD profile image

      Scottie JD 

      10 years ago

      Fascinating article Jeri!


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