Videos

Chicken Society at Hens of the Hills

Chickens are social animals–until we take their freedom away. They form groups, make friends, and help each other grow. Meet Hens of the Hills microsanctuary founder, Deirdre Duhan, and see what happens when this group of rescued hens get back their right to live.

► Duration 4:13

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Take a trip into the Berkeley Hills, where Deirdre Duhan has turned her backyard into a microsanctuary for a unique group of chickens rescued from various forms of exploitation and neglect. She cares for the hens—all nine of them—just as the hens care for each other while relearning the natural behaviors they lost in captivity.

The chickens are free to come and go as they please. But unlike the world they knew up until their rescue, at the microsanctuary the hens know they are safe and so they choose to stay. Together, they’re building a sense of belonging at their new home.

“Chicken society at Hens of the Hills has been built by all the different members of the group because they’re coming from different rescue situations,” said Duhan.

Pellie and Pearl were the first two hens to move in. Before they arrived at the microsanctuary, they were living with a breeder who was raising more than 100 birds in their backyard. Because backyard breeding operations of that size are illegal, authorities were forcing the breeder to get rid of the chickens, which meant killing them. But a concerned neighbor observed a special mother-daughter relationship between two of the birds and knew they had to intervene.

As uncomfortable as it is for us to admit, open rescues like Pearl and Pellie’s aren’t the only actions on hold right now. With the world hitting refresh on news feeds and many of us going into lockdown, Sentient Media’s work is more important than ever. Help us share the facts during these uncertain times and make sure the world understands the magnitude of the situation. Our species cannot survive if we continue to exploit our planet and nonhuman animals.

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