The Blushing Hens

Listen to Today's Edition
Voiced by Amazon Polly

Chickens are highly underrated.

In reality, these birds, domesticated from wild jungle fowl around 10,000 years ago, are far more emotionally complex than humans usually believe.

In a recent study, scientists have discovered they even blush when emotionally aroused, Science Alert reported.

A team of researchers came to that conclusion after investigating whether chickens blush, having observed similar responses in birds like macaws and vultures.

Their analysis relied on an experiment involving six Sussex hens, filmed in both natural and human-controlled situations. The scenarios the chickens were subjected to, including being fed worms or captured, were meant to provoke excitement or fear.

An algorithm processed the footage to analyze redness on specific parts of the chickens’ faces, such as their cheeks, earlobes and wattles (the skin that dangles under their chin).

The scientists found that the redder the cheeks and earlobes were, the more excited or afraid the chickens were.

At the same time, they also found that redness could indicate the chickens’ response to the presence of humans.

They separated hens into two groups, one that was gradually introduced to a human, and another that was left alone. When meeting a human, hens in the first group were less red and less fearful than their counterparts in the second group.

Changes in facial redness “can be used as a marker for assessing the quality of the human-hen relationship,” the researchers said.

Not already a subscriber?

If you would like to receive DailyChatter directly to your inbox each morning, subscribe below with a free two-week trial.

Subscribe today

Support journalism that’s independent, non-partisan, and fair.

If you are a student or faculty with a valid school email, you can sign up for a FREE student subscription or faculty subscription.

Questions? Write to us at

Copy link