The other day I noticed that one of our Orpingtons was missing. We got five Orpington pullets from the hatchery back in April and until recently we couldn't tell one from the other. Then I got leg bands. Now, we know for a fact that the one who always lags behind is Chicken Blue (she of the blue leg band) and the one who disappears every morning is Paris, owner of the red band.
The first time I noticed Paris gone, I went searching for her and found her well out of the chicken yard, past Annie and Josie's paddock, behind the barn, in a tangle of weeds at the base of a collection of unused t-posts. She was laying an egg. I collected the egg and took the chicken, now clearly a hen, back to the chicken yard. I didn't trust her to find her way back on her own I guess.
The next day I didn't notice her disappear, but I did think to check behind the barn. I found another egg. The third day, same thing, another egg.
What surprises me is not that the chicken can get out of the chicken yard -- our fence is afterall more suggestion than actual barricade. It's a wonder any of the chickens stay in. No, what surprises me is that she leaves so deliberately, completes her mission, and then makes her way back in as though it never happened.