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The feathered flock of the Eagle Rock garden

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

art by Ket Gill

Hidden away in the bustling campus of Eagle Rock is a secluded paradise that is unbeknownst to many of us. Filled with lush greenery, the horticulture garden is a secret world with many hidden creatures. If you venture close enough to its gate, you may hear the soft clucking of one of its secrets, its nine feathered occupants, the chickens.

all photos taken by Edith Croshaw

From the day they were born, these chickens have lived in the horticulture garden here at Eagle Rock High School. Having been handled and raised by students and staff alike, they have grown to be accustomed to humans. “They love interacting with us!” states horticulture teacher Ms. Trujillo. “Everytime we are over by the coop, they come running over, clucking and searching for treats.” They were introduced to the school when they were merely a day old, covered in down and small enough to sit in the palm of your hand.

There were nine of them in total: two Buff Orpingtons, two Easter Eggers, two Barred Plymouth Rocks, and three Rhode Island Reds. Each week they grew larger, molting their down feathers and growing in colorful wing feathers. Once they were around five weeks, they were considered fully feathered and able to venture outside.

With eager excitement to explore their new home, the chicks would scamper about, pecking weeds and dust-bathing to clean under their thick layers of feathers. Some would even lay on their side in the sun, one leg splayed out to the side with a wing covering it like a feathered blanket, soaking up the warmth.

By this time their plumage displayed vibrant colors and their pink combs wobbled side to side as they ran. Horticulture students would watch in glee as they scratched the dirt, searching for bugs, weeds, or any other tasty morsel they could find. Many people would find themselves sitting outside the coop, watching as the hens played keepaway with their latest find.

Sesame, a curious barred rock with an outstanding personality, was usually the first one to find these treats. She was also the first one to learn how to scale the fence and fly out of the coop, a brave endeavor considering the sharp chicken wire. Looking outside, students would witness Sesame flapping over the fence with ease, followed by the rest of the bustling flock. “It was a chicken prison break!” Ms. Trujillo recalls, laughing at the memory, “We had to rush to build a chicken run to give them space, but they still were able to scale that fence!” Though many people assume that chickens can’t fly, this well known fact is actually partially false. Though they can’t fly as well as a raven or parrot, chickens can use their powerful wings to propel themselves into the air. With a massive jump of around five feet high, they can practically glide over most fences. Many of the hens will do this to snatch a treat out of someone's hand.

By the time they were a couple months old, two major events took place. The first was that Poppy, a gorgeous Easter Egger who wasn’t afraid of anything, was discovered to be a rooster. Though he looked the same as all the other pullets when he was younger, it was obvious once he grew crimson saddle-feathers and stunning tail feathers that would glimmer green when struck by the sun. Luckily, unlike most roosters, when approached by students and staff, he wouldn’t attack, but instead observe them with piercing golden eyes. Horticulture students will hear him crowing throughout the day, announcing his presence to every creature around.

The second surprise was much more cause for celebration. One morning, when cleaning the coop, Ms. Trujillo discovered 2 light brown eggs. They were small, as with all chicken eggs at first, but it was a monumental day for Ms. Trujillo. “The day before we had heard strange noises coming from the coop,” she remembers. “So I assume that they were just as excited as we were about their eggs!”

With the amount of thrill these chickens have brought to the garden so far, we can expect many more years full of excitement and adventure following the lives of the nine horticulture chickens.


Buff Orpington: Beautiful birds with feathers the color of the sun, these gentle giants are considered “the golden retrievers of the chicken world”. Names: Banana and Meryl Cheep

Barred Plymouth Rocks: Highly devoted and trainable, the Barred Rocks tend to be the smartest out of all the chickens. They are the first ones to figure out the feeder, but also the first to discover how to get to the treats. Names: Sesame and Black Bean

Rhode Island Red: These radiant birds are covered with plumage almost like that of a phoenix. They have an extremely high egg production rate and are known for being nosy. These inquisitive chickens like to poke their head in places where it shouldn’t be. Names: Graham Cracker, Cinnamon, and Hash Brown.

Easter Egger: Like their name suggests, the Easter Egger is able to lay colorful eggs. They can lay a range of colors from a light green to a dull teal. They are shyer than other breeds, yet still friendly once they get comfortable around you. Names: King Poppy (Rooster) and Oreo

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