Emily Baines
January 07, 2017 12:56 pm

Apparently, middle school summer reading book Watership Down might as well have been written about chickens. According to new research, chickens are pretty sneaky and even Machiavellian!  You heard that right. So stop calling your forgetful friends “bird brains,” unless you mean to say they’re pretty darn smart. As scientists published in Animal Cognition , chickens actually demonstrate thinking skills on par with mammals and other primates. Wow.

Here’s what scientific research has to say about chickens:

1They are masters of deceit

Our feathered friends are actually quite deceitful. The males would make food calls when no food was actually present as a means to attract females. The males would also cluck more quietly while wooing female chickens if rival male chickens were present. This was to prevent their rivals from realizing potential mates were in the area. Sounds like a typical man.

2They can count.

Yes, you read that correctly. Chickens can count. Even newly hatched chicks can discern quantities and do simple arithmetic. Those of us who needed extra help with their Algebra homework should have had some pet chickens lying around.

3They can talk.

According to The Telegraph, chicken communication consists of an impressively varied repertoire of different visual displays and at least 24 distinct vocalizations which they use to sound the alarm for danger or attract a mate, because, of course they can. Of course.

4They have major self control

Scientists found that birds would hold out for better food reward, and are “able to self-assess their position in the pecking order, two characteristics which are indicative of self-awareness.”

Chickens are self-aware? We’ve been spending all this time worrying about robots becoming self-aware. But maybe we need to be watching our farm animals more carefully!

5They have feelings

Researchers discovered that chickens experience a wide range of complex positive and negative emotions. For one thing, they definitely feel fear, anxiety, and anticipation. Well, now I just feel bad about eating eggs.

As Dr. Loro Marino, a senior scientist for The Someone Project, a joint venture of Farm Sanctuary and the Kimmela Center, explained:

Well, now we’re terrified.

Here’s hoping our feathered friends don’t rise up and take over the human race, because it seems like they might one day be able to!