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Transgendered chicken edition


Not my artwork. Reverse image search doesn’t tell me the illustrator either. This drives artists crazy – the internet is great at disseminating art, but not so great at making that work for artists.

If you hang around chicken groups long enough, somebody is bound to tell you the story of a hen that turned into a rooster. Not just a lead chicken getting bossy, as they nearly all do, but literally turning into a rooster, with a comb and a crow and everything. I was agnostic on the subject.

Then I accidentally stumbled over an article that explains it. A bit. It’s kind of short.

A female bird has two ovaries, but normally only uses the left one. If that ovary is damaged — say by an infection — the right ovary becomes active. It can happen to any bird, apparently.

But the right ovary produces more testosterone. There’s a political joke in there somewhere, I feel sure.

So the affected bird stops laying (usually) and grows male plumage. There’s a lovely picture at the link of a peahen with the full peacock deal going on. They become sterile – or, at least, never fully develop as males. In one example, the male who favored her continued to court her after the chance. What a puzzled bird that must be.

I wish there was more there on behavior. It’s hard to imagine an evolutionary reason for a useless backup ovary, unless the man-hen maybe takes a role in protecting the flock.

At the bottom of that article is a link to a scan of another article about a particular gender bending hen. The expert quoted says the right ovary actually becomes a testicle, but she also says “A whistling woman and a crowing hen are neither fit for God nor men” is in the Bible. It is not.

Good weekend, all!

January 27, 2017 — 9:33 pm
Comments: 19