Like any good chicken or duck 'mother', I pride myself in thinking I understand for the most part what our chickens and ducks are trying to tell me by the different clucks, growls, shrieks and quacks they use. If you spend enough time around them, you will come to recognize a low throaty cluck of a broody hen, the sort of growling sound when they spy a hawk, the high-pitched chirp-chirp of a lost chick, and the Morse code-like chatter of the ducks when they're excited.
While I would never claim to be able to communicate with them on every level, their body language also helps convey their message and between the sounds they make and their expression, we seem to be able to get our messages across to each other at least most of the time.
So when Gregory, our Pekin drake, came over this morning while I was filling the ducks' pool and started chattering away, I assumed he was just excited about having a clean pool, so we 'chatted' about it for awhile with him getting more and more worked up by the minute....well, imagine my surprise when I glanced over my shoulder to see the run gate had swung partway open and all the chickens were escaping!
As I ran to get them back into the run, I swear Gregory waddled away, completely disgusted by my failure to communicate with him. And yet again, I was humbled and reminded how much I still have to learn about our backyard flock.