E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Hen and Chickens
(in Christian art), emblematical of Gods providence. (See St. Matthew xxiii. 37.)
A whistling maid and crowing hen is neither fit for God nor men. A whistling maid means a witch, who whistles like the Lapland witches to call up the winds; they were supposed to be in league with the devil. The crowing of a hen was supposed to forbode a death. The usual interpretation is that masculine qualities in females are undesirable.