Of the three breeds of chickens I selected, the Anconas are the last to lay eggs. I made my breed choices with several characteristics in mind, such as darker feathering (to give them some protection from hawks and other predators), consistent laying, and heartiness in cold weather. Two of the breeds, the Anconas and the Dominiques, were on breed “watch lists” since their numbers had been declining. (Featherfoot was added in to my order by McMurray Hatchery; I think s/he is a Cochin but much still remains a mystery.)
The Anconas are known to be flighty—they will fly into a tree to get away from a predator, they are excellent foragers, and they lay eggs in cold weather. They also appear to be quite independent in their choice of nesting boxes. This morning, as soon as we let them out, an Ancona made her way to “our” side of the coop (it is still missing a door). At the moment we have some bales of straw in there, which will be placed over the strawberries to protect them from snow. The hen flew on top of the bales, and then started eyeing the shelf where Cherisse has stored tools and nails, in preparation for the final coop work. Next moment, the hen flew onto the shelf, trying to pick her way around the boxes and clutter. We left her there, wondering what she was up to.
Well, a few hours later I looked in, and there was an egg, sitting at a rakish angle on a box of screws. How she found that spot a comfortable one for nesting, I have no idea. Nor am I sure how to encourage her to use the nice wood shavings-lined boxes built for her…surely she has seen the others laying eggs in them.
Most likely this is the second time that hen has used this unusual spot—a couple of days ago Cherisse found an egg in there but thought she must have set it down and forgotten it. She didn’t recall doing so, but the likelihood of a hen choosing that spot to lay an egg seemed far-fetched.