Sure seems that way…. I went down to the chicken coop to close up the other night (“close up” means closing the chicken door-to prevent intruders, collecting eggs, checking the waterer, generally checking on the girls). I flicked on the light when suddenly I noticed this startling movement in one of the nesting boxes. One of my “Blondies” (White Crested Black Polish) was dramatically swinging and lunging her head around, it looked like she was in complete agony–beak sticking straight up in the air, with her head and neck winding and convulsing around as if she was posessed. Seizure? Bitten or chewed on by something and she’s in agony? About to die and writhing in agony?
I quickly went to her and grabbed her out of the box to see what was wrong, she squawked and then suddenly stopped moving. I looked at her, and she looked at me. I set her down on the coop floor and she just stood there, little conversational chicken grunts, questioning. I picked her up and she just looked at me as if I was the one with the problem. I put her back in the nest box, and I swear she gave me a look that said “Leave me alone and let me sleep. Jeepers cripes you scared me!”
So, unless she starts having regular convulsions, I’m gonna assume now that chickens have nightmares. She did look like she was in pain, and she IS the one that all the others peck on her head (I’ve had to spray the top of her head with antiseptic and isolate her when they make her head bleed). She looks like one of those monks from the Middle Ages who shaved the tops of their heads. I’ll try to remember to add a photo here. So maybe she was dreaming they were pecking her head and she was trying to get away?
Here’s a painting of what the White Crested Black Polish hens (from the “chicken-by-the-window” series) look like: