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Re: Sex-changing Chickens

john_conway@mac.com wrote:
> My father has (or had) three female chickens. Recently, one of them
> seems to have been turning into a rooster. Having examined the specimen
> personally I can verify that this does indeed look to be the case. It
> has grown spurs, and it's comb is getting larger.
> My question is, can some birds change sex? If so, what implications does
> this have for (other) dinosaurs? (Well, they wouldn't have had to use
> the improbable plot device of frog DNA to explain the sex-changing
> dinosaurs in Jurassic Park for a start.)
> This could really throw a spanner in the works of studies on sexual
> dimorphism and growth dynamics.
> Or is this just a butch hen?

        I don't know about birds changing sex, although I do know that any
group of hens (chicken type) will always have one hen who rules the
roost.  Oddly, though, I once had a group of about 10 hens and a good
rooster.  Two of the hens raised, between them, about 10 chicks and one
of those was a Boss Hen from hatching.  By the time she was 4 months
old, she had the rooster completely terrified and she took over the job
of covering the other hens and did the whole rooster set of behavioral
characteristics. Her crowing wasn't too successful, but she tried.  She
also laid eggs and allowed the rooster to cover her occasionally so that
she also raised chicks and was a good mother.  She didn't grow spurs or
an enlarged comb.  

        I guess she was just a righteous butch and not afraid of anything,
including me.  I wasn't exactly afraid of her, but kept a close eye on
her when I was in the pen.  She finally had to go in the freezer so I
could get more chicks than hers.  *sigh*  too bad there are no gay bars
for chickens.  I kind of miss her.