Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


YARD BIRDS Clacking Pecking Wooden Chicken Toys (and one of Plastic) Folk Art Peckers


Despite zoning regulations, I've put chickens in the yard, but they are my sister's.  I am babysitting.

With European roots, and still carved over there are the wonderful wooden pecking chickens.  Folk art in motion.  Yard bird Peckers!

The flat surface, or platform, is often "littered" with sawdust or specks of something resembling feed...wooden chickens are no smarter than the real ones, so they eat.  Often the feed is painted on.  Each bird is tied to a guide string which runs through the platform to a ball, which when rotated causes our favorite domesticated bird to move.  Like a ping-pong paddle of peckers.

Although they are among the least expensive collectibles, one sold for over a grand at an auction a few years ago.  It appears to have been a rare "dapple painted" Pennsylvania Dutch version. 

At any given time, you may find a dozen or so listed on eBay.  There is endless variety, but they are all birds on a string. The most scarce are antique hand-made versions, or like all toys, those in the original box I suppose..  The ornate, painted versions imported from Russia are bright (and loud… clacking is an important consideration) but lack the charm of hand-carved or primitive rudimentary versions which are less decorative but more authentic.  Can I just type "lacking clacking" once?

One of the earliest manufactured plastic versions is "Little Bill's Chickens" which is smaller than most and marked by title on the handle, and it is this one which originated in my family and is lovingly preserved by Lil Sis.

Essentially, there are three versions!  The common pecking head, the less often seen bobbing tail, and the far more intricate version with flapping wings!   Use above to create your own cottage coop industry.

Collection of Pecking Chickens courtesy my Sister!



  1. I bought one back in the late '80s up on the Blue Ridge in Mayberry. I was rather disappointed to find that Mayberry was nothing more than a wide spot off the Parkway with little more than an old white clapboard store. Inside there was a great bunch of locals sitting around an old pot belly stove gabbing and homemade this and that for sale. I don't know where the locals had come from because I didn't see any houses nearby. I bought lots of little items including the clacker which I still play with and haven't found anyone who doesn't enjoy it. Well, those wearing hearing aids get a little tired of it pretty fast.

  2. Thank you for this! I'm in an antiquing group. I had to tell a woman that her made in Taiwan one, with fallen-out eyes, was basically worthless. I told her if she wanted to give one to kids to play with, to give them a real one. It would be like, if, when I was a kid, and I wanted a Schwinn, my folks got me the worst, beat-up, used bike they could find.