Apparently chickens have between 20 and 30 vocalisations, depending on which study you read. Irene demonstrated one of them recently when she gave a low purring sound. This purring sound can express three very different things: contentment, fear or - as in Irene's case recently - a warning.
Fizz yells his warnings at the top of his voice. The resulting racket is something along the lines of a strangled shriek. We reckon he is actually yelling "CROW!!!!", but he does have a tendency to apply it to all sorts of things. In the past he has warned of helicopters, sheep and, last week, a passing Red Admiral butterfly. But to be fair, he has a limited knowledge of English, so "CROW!!!!" has to cover everything. Not that it matters; none of the girls take the slightest bit of notice of him.
But they immediately took Irene's warning seriously. Each one of them instantly froze. After a moment of complete immobility they quietly, and in an orderly fashion, trooped into the safety of their covered run. Fizz was already in there having a quick snack, but I doubt he'd have noticed the very real danger circling overhead. His fringed hairdo means he misses a lot.
The reason for Irene's alarm was that she had spotted a pair of Red Kites patrolling in the cerulean sky directly above her. Red Kites! No wonder my Cluckers decided to hoof it back to where they felt safe, despite the fact that I was sitting in the garden with them.
I see the young kites quite often. Sometimes they are being chased off by irate birds intent on protecting their young, sometimes they are circling so high in the sky you can scarcely see them. It's doubtful they would attack the Cluckers because they mostly dine on carrion, only occasionally taking small birds or mammals.
But Irene was taking no chances. After all, for all she knew these Kites might have fancied chicken for a change.