NOTE TO READER: I’ve always found the word “chicken” to be comical. I don’t know why. Thus, I will be giggling as I write about them.
How exactly do birds do it? Let’s use chickens, [hehehe] shall we?
Roosters fancy themselves clever little bastards. If they want to mate, they’ll call the hens out to dinner–which is usually grain on the ground. He lets them start their dinner and then when they are focused on that, he moves in for the kill, without so much as a smooth pick-up line.
We’ve all got that image of a rooster mounting a hen, but what goes on between the feathers, as it were? Have you really thought about it? Don’t lie….when I was a child I thought it was some kind of depositing of….of…liquid? That um…sort of soaked into the back of a hen and….did what deposited fertilizing liquids do. I never really imagined a micro-rooster-penis. Chickens [heheheh]with penises? [hahahah]Really? What would THAT look like, strutting around the barnyard?
Now through the magic of Google, I know..
SIDEBAR: Ths magic was not to be had at first, because I typed in “How do chickeens mate?” first. Not sure what a chickeen is, but there was no info on it. Just the usual helpful and somewhat condescending Google message: “Did you mean ‘how do chickens mate?”?
Anyway, turns out, I was a smarter kid that I thought. No penis on roosters.
But there is an anatomical feature called a cloaca. It’s an external opening on both the rooster and the hen. When these two openings are merged in mating, it’s called a “cloacal kiss.” Hens can’t fight off a rooster, but can decide to reject the idea of having his offspring by squirting his sperm right back on him.
Wouldn’t that be interesting if human females could do that?
(try not to imagine it, I dare you).
Rooster prefer hens with larger combs–the ones on their heads, not the ones guys carry in their back pockets. It also seems to hold true for human males. I guess that’s the human equivalent to breasts. The bigger the better.
A fertilized egg takes only 24 hours to get the white part and shell. Did you know the shell is soft until it’s out in the air, and then quickly calcifies to the shells we’re familiar with?
Mr. Rooster climbs on top then, after she squats for him (because using a step-stool would be undignified). He then bends his tail under so his cloaca touches her cloaca in that aforementioned cloacal kiss.
One poster on backyardchickens.com called the act “disturbing and unromantic.” Another poster suggested you “take your husband’s beard trimmers and shave around the hen and rooster cloaca to ensure better….connection. She did not, however, offer any advice on how to explain to the husband why his shaver has a feather stuck in it.
She was then admonished by another poster, but not for using her husband’s shaver to do this, nor for not telling him she did, but for doing “Kind of a not so nice thing to a chicken.” Never mind the husband.
So there you have it. That’s how chickens do it. Hearing that song in my head “birds do it, bees do it….” Oh yeah.
What about the bees?
Well now, bees are a little more exciting. The male bee, or drone, (worker bees don’t mate, they have too much to do) mates in mid-flight with the Queen. Imagine the aerodynamic skill it takes to do that…..
Anyway, bees use penetrative, internal fertilization. The drone deposits millions of sperm
with his endophallus, which stays inside the queen in a pouch; and if he’s a honey bee, he then promptly dies, because he can’t live without his endophallus. Drones live only to mate. (Sound like any human males you know?)
The first queen to hatch stings the other queens to death in their little cells. (Kind of sounds like an episode of The Tudors).
If two or more are hatched at the same time, they fight to the death. Last Queen standing is the winner. (Now it sounds more like chess). Then the last-queen-standing begins to (check)mate with all the males. And none of the other bees call her a slut.
Unfertilized eggs become males, and fertilized eggs become females, and the queen can choose whether to fertilize the eggs she carries, or not. See? Choice is important in the bee community, too. She can also create male bees without breeding at all. If that were true for humans, it would be what I’d call a mixed blessing.
Also, a fertilized egg can become another queen, if royal jelly is fed to it (‘m not making this up)–this is a glandular secretion of nutrients and sex hormones.Royal jelly is also sold as a supplement for humans, though I’m not certain it is used to create queens. I’ll call the the palace.
Continuing….The newly created queen egg eventually pupates. This is not the process of becoming a baby dog. No, according to the dictionary, a pupa is “The nonfeeding stage between the larva and adult in the metamorphosis of holometabolous insects, during which the larva typically undergoes complete transformation within a protective cocoon or hardened case.”
Honey bees are quite a bit more civilized about community dynamics. When the colony becomes overpopulated, the old queen obligingly takes half the worker bees with her to find a new home and the younger queen then takes over the colony.
I didn’t know all this when I was 7 years old, and made a short career of Stomping Bees. (go purchase it. I’m addicted to writing, please support my habit. Many blessings will be had by you and yours). I also didn’t know all these insect-facts when my brother shot a hornet’s nest with a squirt gun and ran away as they all stung me in the face. If I had known more about bees at the time, I would have wished the same fate for him after he did his squirting.
Hornets are part of the wasp family of insects. And although we all seem to have a dimmer view of them as more aggressive, (as I did when they all stung me in the face) they are actually much more civilized in their life cycles than bees. For instance, queen hornets gather wood from available sources, chew it up and mix it with their own spit to create a nest-building material much like paper mache. Then she lays eggs in the cells she creates (which look much like a honey comb) and feeds the youngsters that hatch with pre-chewed insects, until they mature enough to spin a silky covering over the cell (like spiders do, interestingly–I wonder if that happened when a spider and a hornet got trapped together and relieved their boredom by the spider teaching the hornet how to create silk webbing?). Then the pupa-hornets go through their transformation into female workers. They take over the domestic duties and the queen lays more eggs, and when the queens are born, they go off looking for mating, and then form their own colonies elsewhere. Much more civilized than killing the other queen, but not near as entertaining.
For a more interesting and, I must say, highly entertaining essay on hornets, go to Fred Reed’s ” Thinking About Hornets” blog post. At http://www.lewrockwell.com/reed/reed91.html
Now ends this lesson on the birds and the bees. I hope all this information has made you happy you came across my blog. If not, I’m sure there are many other posts you might find more appealing. As you can see from the tag cloud, I write about almost everything. But I only laugh at chickens. [hehehe].