How Chickens Communicate - dummies

By Kimberly Willis, Robert T. Ludlow

Chickens are very vocal creatures, and they communicate with each other frequently. Chickens are rarely quiet for long unless they are sleeping. The range of sounds that chickens make is wide and somewhat open to human interpretation, but some of the sounds are defined here:

  • Crowing: The loud “cock-a-doodle-do” a rooster makes is the chicken noise most people know best. Roosters crow when they become sexually mature, and they don’t do it just in the morning.

    The crow announces the rooster’s presence to the world as ruler of his kingdom: It’s a territorial signal. Different roosters have different crows — some are loud, some softer, some hoarse sounding, some shrill, and so on. Roosters crow all day long.

  • Cackling: Hens make a loud calling noise after they lay an egg. Many times other hens join in. It can go on for a few minutes. Some people call it a signal of pride; others say it’s a yell of relief!

  • Chucking or clucking: Both roosters and hens make a “chuck-chuck” or “cluck-cluck” sound as a conversational noise. It occurs at any time and can be likened to people talking among themselves in a group. Who knows what they discuss?

  • Perp-perping: Roosters make a soft “perp-perp” noise to call hens over to a good supply of food. Hens make a similar noise to alert their chicks to a food source.

  • Rebel yelling: Hey, it’s hard to describe these noises, but chickens give out a loud holler of alarm when they spot a hawk or other predator. All the other chickens scatter for cover.

  • Growling: All chickens can make a growling noise. Hens commonly make this noise when they’re sitting on eggs and someone disturbs them. It’s a warning sound and may be followed by an attack or a peck.

  • Squawking: Grab or scare a chicken of either sex, and you’ll probably hear this loud sound. Sometimes other chickens run when they hear the noise, and other times they’re attracted, depending on the circumstances.

  • Other noises: The preceding sounds are only some of the more common chicken noises. Baby chicks peep, hens make a sort of crooning sound when they’re nesting, and some hens seem to be humming when they’re happy and contented. Roosters make aggressive fighting noises. Sit around a chicken coop long enough, and you’ll hear the whole range of sounds.