How to Speak Chicken

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 Nov 2017

Member Reviews

I had the pleasure of previewing Melissa Caughey's upcoming book, How to Speak Chicken: Why Your Chickens Do What They Do & Say What They Say, on NetGalley.  As a new chicken owner, I was so excited to read this book. First, there are not enough words to describe how amazing the photos are--each one captures some different aspect of  these beautiful creatures.

Melissa does a great job of balancing the science and facts about chickens with the heart-warming and personal stories from chicken owners. There is a little something for everyone in here, including some "getting started" information on how to raise and care for chickens, as well as some really interesting lessons on the origins of modern chickens. As a psychologist, I found the material related to the interpersonal relationships chickens have to their flock members and to humans especially interesting. I have even practiced a few of Melissa's suggestions with my own flock and have found some of my girls taking the time to interact and "chat" with me.

More than anything, this book really captures the joy of having chickens--that it is so much more than just having little egg-layers. Chickens are smart, creative, and endlessly entertaining. They have strong opinions about things like who should get to sit in the doorway at night, or who is the head hen in charge. When they disagree they are sometimes surprisingly LOUD, but they are also communal and cooperative. I really loved this book and look forward to having a copy on my coffee table so when people ask me why I have chickens I can hand it to them.

Now that I have finished this book, I really want to have Melissa Caughy on my podcast Chasing the Mind to talk about backyard chicken ownership, how we as humans benefit from having these lovely birds in our lives, and how we too can learn to speak chicken. Please #teachmetospeakchicken !!
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I fell in love with chickens many years ago when I was fortunate enough to have a farm and a small flock. Since then I have often amused my friends by "speaking chicken" at petting zoos or educational farms or even the flock that wanders around the fabulous Magnolia Gardens in Charleston, SC. The chickens always respond enthusiastically. So I just had to love this little book with its wealth of chicken 'facts," gorgeous pictures, and great stories as well as some interesting chicken research. I could have done without the bios of other flocks and chicken keepers which were mainly a snooze. Great gift for chicken lovers.
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"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened. 
-Anatole France"

I enjoy chickens. Having grown up on a 'mixed farm', we usually had a dozen laying hens. It was fun to watch them pecking bugs on the blades of grass and scratching in the dirt. 
The picture of the chicken on the cover attracted me to the book, HOW TO SPEAK CHICKEN. This short, easy to read book of 144 pages has many beautiful colourful photos and pictures of chickens and hens. There is a partial bibliography and a link to the author's website. 
I know chickens have an inner eyelid, but was unfamiliar with the word "nictitating." Melissa Caughey writes, "Like us, chickens have an upper and a lower eyelid, but they also have an inner eyelid, or nictitating membrane, which folds into the corner of the eye near the beak. When a chicken blinks, the upper lid doesn't move like a human's. Instead the inner eyelid slides over the eyeball to clean away debris while the lower lid lifts to meet the upper lid."

Wanting to know more, I googled 'nictitating membrane' and found Wikipedia's definition. "The nictitating membrane (from Latin nictare, to blink) is a transparent or translucent third eyelid present in some animals that can be drawn across the eye for protection and to moisten it while maintaining vision."

Melissa Caughey uses a timeline, diagrams and pictures in her explanation and description of the development of the chick from day one to the twenty-first day when it hatches from the egg. 
The writing was repetitive in the Advance Reader Copy provided to me. We learn through repetition, so the author may have written this book to inform and teach the novice or middle schoolers about chickens. 
I would buy this book for the beautiful colourful photos of chickens and hens.
It would make a wonderful addition to school and public libraries and doctor and dental waiting rooms. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Storey Publishing for an ARC of HOW TO SPEAK CHICKEN by Melissa Caughey. Please accept my apologies for taking quotes from the unfinished advance reader copy I was given.
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This is a really interesting book if you have chickens, or are thinking about getting chickens.  Well laid out and full of useful information.
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How to Speak Chicken
Why Your Chickens Do What They Do & Say What They Say
by Melissa Caughey 
What a joy of a book! This book has love just oozing out of it! There are lots of pictures, tons of great information on not only the communication of of feathered friends but so much more. These little guys are not bird brained after all. The wonderful and delightful stories are worth the money itself. The info, personal stories, the charming pictures, and so much more all stuffed into a big fluffy pile of love. It made me feel warm and happy all over reading this. I wanted to go make a coop and get chickens again. Thanks NetGalley and Storey Publishing for letting me read this awesome and caring book!
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I received a copy of How to Speak Chicken through NetGalley for an honest review. Thank you to Storey Publishing and Melissa Caughey for the opportunity.

I have been a backyard chicken owner for over three years. Our family has five of them. They have become our beloved pets and each one of them is unique in personality and behavior. I have learned a lot about chickens and raising them. The book cover caught my eye and had me interested in it immediately. Finally, a book written about chickens by an author that seems to love them as much as I do. 

Reading this book was very fun. This book is very accurate on chicken behavior. I thought that I knew everything about them, but this book is full of information that I didn’t know, specifically about rooster behavior. I like the layout, the writing, and the fonts. It was an easy, fast read. I enjoyed the colorful pictures of the different breeds. I shared the book with my family while I was reading it and they loved it too. It was very nice to read a book written by someone who shares a love of chickens. Other books about chickens are mostly coffee-table picture books. This book has a nice balance of pictures and a lot of informative and entertaining content (the most content that I’ve seen about chickens). People will learn more about chickens even if they know a lot about them. They will admire the pictures like I do. I will buy this book when it’s published because it’s so unique.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Thank you for the ARC!
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An absolute gem of a book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and couldn’t tear myself away from reading it. I am a relatively new backyard chicken keeper and, as this book point out, chickens really do provide comfort and are indeed a joy to watch! ‘How to Speak Chicken’ confirms so many of my own observations but it does so much more, it provides explanations and so many fascinating details (did you know hens have been known to induce their own sex change into a Rooster? Did you know that chickens are the closest relation to a Tyrannosaurus rex in the world today? Did you know chickens can be awake and asleep at the same time?). I revelled in the author’s own observations more than the scientific/psychological experiments she refers to in one of the chapters. This is a book to re-read over and over again, as a chicken keeper it makes you aware of and receptive the chicken world. It definitely has changed my whole perspective on my own flock of hens.  I find I can’t wait to go outside and observe my chickens with all this information still fresh in my head. Beautiful photography, sweetly written, a real eye-opener about the world of chickens. Anyone who wants chickens, is interested in chickens, has chickens or has had chickens will appreciate this book greatly.
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A fascinating book on chickens with amazing pictures.
I love how clean and bright this book is.  The information is really well given too.  Easy to read and understand.  I have 6 hens and 5 baby chicks right now.  So I truly found this fascinating!
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Do you have backyard chickens? 

If you have had backyard chickens for more than, oh, six months, most of the things in this book you have already discovered.  It might have been a hard row to get there, but if you have spent at least six months with your backyard flock you know about all the different noises they make.  You know the call of danger, just as you know the call of "there is some book food here.  Really, come and eat it, I'll show you".  Unless you just dumped the chickens in a run, and never go out to do anything with them other than feed and leave, you must have heard the calling they do when they wonder where the others are, or when they have laid an egg.

I bring this up, because I'm not sure who this book is written for.  Any chicken owner will either learn through experience, or because they had to look certain things up, all the things that are in this book.  Plus, this book is a little hippy-dippy.  The author talks about noises that make her think the chickens have a name for her.  OK.

I was hoping to learn something knew.  Instead, I was reading and saying to myself, well, that isn't true with my flock.  It may be that I have an unusual flock, but my hens don't get to really get to pick and choose which rooster they mate with.  They tend to gang-bang at times.  So, while it is true that roosters will do a little dance, and try to appeal to the hens, there are also the rude ones, that don't care.

So, read this book if you want to find out what raising hens is like.  But, as I've said, most of the information in this book will already be known by anyone with a flock, already.


Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.
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What an incredibly sweet book!  I have been an owner of chickens since we moved to the country more than ten years ago and when I stumbled across this book up for review I didn’t hesitate to put in a request.  Especially since I am starting over with my flock after a series of raccoon attacks.  The title jumped out at me and I thought it might be an interesting read and perhaps give me some tips on how to communicate and bond with my new flock.  It provided that and so much more!

The book is broken down into five main section dealing with chicken calls, behavior, intelligence, motivation, and emotions.  All the while sprinkled with beautiful pictures, interesting interviews, and touching personal stories.  Being such a short book it doesn’t delve too deeply into any one topic but I tried out some of the chicken calls on my girls and did receive a reaction, much like what was described in the book.  If you are new to chickens this book isn’t an instruction manual on how to care for them, this publisher provides many other books that fit that bill.  This book is more of a touching look into flock life.

If you have chickens, want chickens, or know someone who loves their flock this book would make a great gift!  The only drawback I had is that with the beautiful pictures included in it made my e-reader a little slow to turn pages, so perhaps pick this one up in print.  Charming read.
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