Cheep wants to show off his tail . . . in fact showing off is what Cheep does best, he does it to impress girls! He also guards his patch and warns his girls of any dangers, four legged ones and two! I was very pleased that after a formal introduction to photographer Laura Edwards when she spent a whole day taking photographs for the Country Living Magazine article, he behaved courteously (phew! good boy).
But I think Cheep is a tiny bit disappointed that in the published article he only appears in a small black and white photo and from a back view, he'd secretly been expecting to be on the cover in full colour.
So I'll let Cheep show off in a whole blog post to himself.
Cheep hatched in September 2011 under my neighbour's broody, who instantly decided she didn't want to be a mother hen and tried to kill the newly hatched chick. So Cheep was raised in my studio – he thinks he is human and that I am his mum!
Cheep, on my desk, September 2011
Cheep is now just over two years old, after his near-death experience he regrew his missing feathers and is now fully fledged in his mature plummage. Cockerels are far swankier than hens, they have extra long and dense feathers which drape over the basic plumage which is more or less the same as that of a hen. And as Cheep proved, these long dense feathers can save them from mortal wounds if attacked.
So, as you can see, Cheep has long silky Neck and Saddle Hackles in a beautiful mixture of black, gold, copper and irridescent green. If he wants to be aggressive, he can *raise his hackles* and appear to be three times his normal size! He can really scare unsuspecting visitors to our garden by appearing at their ankles in fully puffed-up mode!
And then there is the magnificent tail! In fact technically the tail is just the stiff straight feathers that sprout from the fleshy stump or 'parson's nose'. What makes a cockerel's tail special are the Tail Coverts – the soft draping feathers at the base of his back, which fall either side of the stiff tail. These feathers have downy fluff at the base which gives extra padding around his hips - rather like something Henry VIII might wear!
And the two very long curved feathers which drape right over the top of the tail, are the Sickles - and they are shaped just like a pair of sickle blades. Bigger really is better in the chicken world!
What does Cheep do all day? He doesn't have to eat continuously to produce eggs, like his girls do. But he keeps himself busy escorting his girls to find the best food, this may mean excavation-projects in the flower-beds . . . but mostly it impresses the girls.
Afterall, that's what it's all about – impressing girls and fertilizing their eggs ;-)
"Follow me darling,
I know where there's a nice nest ;-)"
Cheep and me, November 2013
Cheep and I respect each other, I know he could become aggressive but won't if I treat him with respect and care. Shared moments in the garden with Cheep are very special . . . then I let him swagger off to impress his girls.