It was 108 degrees F yesterday, people.
I let the chickens out to scratch around in the dirt, and in the evening I only counted four. This usually means one of them is completely clueless and hasn't realized that the others are following me around.
I looked and I saw her lying under a bush. With her legs out to the side, at a completely strange angle.
I definitely feared the worst, and approached her. I didn't see any blood, so I tried moving her to my lap. I kept her odd body angle, but all I could see was that she was panting, felt very hot, and that her heart was beating quickly.
I carried her over to the coop. Pete was very helpful and fed the other chickens. I placed her near the water, but she didn't even try to drink. All the chickens did, so I didn't think this was ok. I dribbled some water onto her back and head, then dripped it into her open beak. She seemed to be swallowing, so I kept dribbling and dripping.
She still had her feet out straight beside her, but as soon as she saw the food pellets she started to eat.
When I came back to check later that night, she had climbed up to her roost. By this morning, she was strutting around like nothing had happened.
I think that she just got very overheated. Her legs were probably splayed out in an effort to cool off. She has a significant bare patch on her lower back (common when a more dominant bird starts instituting a "pecking order") and she may have been more susceptible to the sun on her bare skin.
So, I'm going to limit their backyard scratch time to the early evening. Today's going to be a scorcher as well, so even though they do fine in their coop I went ahead and sprayed down the wooden parts for some evaporative cooling.
I hope she'll be ok. I'm just really thankful that it wasn't an injury and that I found her.
Call me the chicken whisperer.