decoding the meaning of chicken sounds

10 Most Common Fascinating Chicken Sounds and How to Decode Its Meaning

It’s important to remember that not every cluck or chirp a chicken makes is the same. There are a wide variety of interpretations for each chicken sound, depending on the circumstances.

Maybe you can decipher the language of chickens by listening to the sounds they make. Exactly what does a chicken sound like, and what do the various clucks signify? To better care for them, you might benefit from learning their sounds.

No matter what kind of chickens you have, you’ve probably heard them make their own sounds and noises, which can be funny or weird.

To begin, let me assure you that there is typically no need for alarm. There are dozens of distinct noises and calls that chickens can make, all of which serve different purposes and communicate different information.

10 Most Common Fascinating Chicken Sounds and How to Decode Its Meaning

Hearing what your chickens have to say can tell you a lot about them. Here are some of the most common chicken sounds and what they mean.

What do chicken sounds like?

Most people don’t realize how complicated the question “What sound does a chicken make?” is. There are a lot of sounds that chickens often make, like clucking, chattering, and even shrieking.

Your flock of chickens has a pecking order that is based on their actions and body language. Most of the time, the chickens that make the most noise are the ones that are the most dominant.

If your chicken is making strange noises, it might not be as unusual as you think. Here are the most common chicken sounds that these birds make and what they may mean.

Most Common Chicken Sounds & Noises

 

Here are 10 of the most common noises and sounds that your chickens will make.

Even more of them are listed in the rest of this post. We’ll talk about how to identify these sounds and what they mean for your flock.

 

Low Murmuring

If you see a group of chickens walking around, they will probably be making a soft murmuring sound. When the birds make these sounds, it means they are happy and safe. Some of them might even make a chicken purr like a cat.

This sounds can happen at any time during the day. Most of the time, it happens when chickens are doing things they do every day, like looking for food or exploring their enclosure.

Hens tend to stay close to each other so they can hear each other murmuring. So, if a chicken stops chirping and makes a loud noise, the others will hear it.

Egg Songs Chicken Sounds

When hens make a happy cackling noise, this is called “the egg song” or “the sound of a chicken laying an egg.” Some describe it as a chicken saying, “buk, buk, buk, ba-gawk.”

As soon as the first hen lays an egg, she starts making these noises. Then the other hens join in the party.

If there are a lot of chickens near the nesting box, this “song” will be much louder. Most likely, all the hens in the area will join in. Only when a hen is sitting in another hen’s favorite nesting box will you hear a big difference in these sounds.

Then, one of them might cackle louder to get the other one to move.

The aggressive cackling will stop once the more powerful hen gets the nesting box she wants. When hens fight, adding more nesting boxes to the pen can stop them.

This is probably the most common sound a chicken makes. If you have hens that lay eggs, you are probably used to hearing.

When a chicken is getting ready to lay an egg or is in the middle of laying an egg, it will make all kinds of chicken noises.

laying hen

 

You might hear your chickens chattering while they wait for a nest box or grumbling when they find that their favorite nest box is already being used.

When chickens are impatiently waiting for a nest box, they are like people waiting in line to use the bathroom: they get upset and start grumbling.

If two chickens fight over the same nest box, the song can change a bit, getting higher pitched and faster.

When a stronger hen gets her way, this warbling will usually stop right away.

chicken lay eggs
Chicken Lay Eggs

If you see these things happening often, you might want to get a couple more nesting boxes. It’s never a bad idea to give your hens a few different options.

Based on scientific research, one nesting box for every three hens is the best number of nesting boxes. This means that the best number of nesting boxes for 100 hens is 34.

Why 34?

You have more nesting boxes than hens need, because that would be better.

Clucking

People think that clucking is the most common sound a chicken makes, but it’s actually a sound that only mothers make. It’s how hens talk to their chicks, sometimes before they’ve even hatched.

When hens sit on their eggs, they may make soft noises like clucking, cooing, or purring to comfort them. By talking to the chicks so soon after they are born, they feel safer and more at ease when they first come out of their eggs.

They can also recognize the sounds of their mother as soon as they hatch.

When hens want their chicks to eat, they often make a “tuk, tuk, tuk” sound. Also, the chicks know to stay close to their mother when they hear a low-pitched clucking sound.

Since hens make so many sounds at their chicks, the chicks will start making their own sounds in response.

Cage Noise Chicken Sounds

Most likely, you’ll hear all kinds of sounds coming from your chickens first thing in the morning.

If you have roosters, they will start to crow on their own. But did you know that your hens will also make chicken noises when they wake up?

pet chicken in garden
Pet Chicken In Garden

It sounds like they’re saying good morning to you and to each other.

You’ll also hear them chattering in their cages as they get ready for bed.

The sounds of chickens in the morning tend to be louder than those at night.

Chattering

Chickens will often chatter on each other  in the coop or when they are out exploring. This is what they do to talk to each other. Some may even talk back to their owners when they do things.

These sounds are what hens use to say “good morning,” “good night,” and “hello” to each other. They might also scold each other with it.

Calling at a High Pitch

A chicken’s alarm cry is a high-pitched sound that they might make. If a chicken screams or shrieks, it is telling the other chickens that a predator, like a hawk, is coming at them from above. This will make the other chickens hide or stand still.

See also  10 Stunning Reasons to Raise Columbian Wyandotte Chickens

Chickens have a different way of telling each other when a predator is coming from the ground. Instead of a loud scream, they will start making a clucking sound over and over again that will get faster as the threat gets closer.

This call isn’t as important as the one for an attack from the sky. Hens are more likely to listen to the calls of other hens than a rooster.

An alarm is like a chicken sound in words.If one chicken is warning the others about danger, the other chickens know exactly what they are talking about.

If a chicken is caught, it will squawk loudly to get help. This sound could be a chicken crying because it was caught by a predator or because a rooster was bothering it. Most of the time, a rooster with more power will come to protect the hen.

So, if you hear any of the above shrieking noises, you should check on your chickens right away. You might be able to scare off a danger before it hurts your birds.

Hens sometimes make a sound called a “lonely call.” To get a rooster to come to them, they will make a loud, insistent call. Most roosters will rush over to see what’s wrong, even if the hen just wants some company.

Broody Growls Chicken Sounds

Growling is a sound that hens make when they are brooding. As they wait for their chicks to hatch, many hens are cranky and full of hormones. Hens may also hiss, scream, or cluck urgently when they are broody.

Most hens that are broody don’t leave their nests, but if they do, they are ready to fight. They might fluff up their feathers and growl at other birds. It’s how they tell other individuals not to bother them.

If a hen with chicks growls at you, it’s best to stay away. Like dogs, chickens growl to tell other animals to leave them alone. It would be best to leave her alone until her eggs hatch.

Naturally, she won’t let out one of these grumbles until she feels threatened or upset.

Have you ever tried to press a hen off her eggs or seen another chicken try to do the same?

10 Most Common Fascinating Chicken Sounds and How to Decode Its Meaning

If you get too close to a brooding hen, she will yell at you. This yell is trying to tell you to leave and go away quickly. Her hormones are rising, and she wants nothing to do with you.

She usually doesn’t want you to be anywhere near her eggs or chicks.

From time to time, a broody hen will yell at you louder and louder, turning her whine into a full-blown, angry temper tantrum. She might also puff up her feathers and peck at you until you go away.

arcona chicken

If a brooding hen leaves her nest to eat or drink water, she will probably be mean.

She is likely to keep clucking over and over, and she will be angry with the chickens around her.

This is how your broody hen tells everyone to get out of her way so she can do what she needs to do and go back to her eggs.

If you’re feeling kind, giving your hen different food and water near where she lays her eggs can help.

 

Happy Murmuring Chicken Sounds

This is the best sound a chicken can make.

Most of the time, your chickens will make nice sounds when they are out on the lawn, looking for food, or taking a dust bath to cool off.

This is one of the easiest ways to tell from what you hear whether or not your chickens are safe and happy. Most of the time, chickens like to stay close to each other while they forage.

organic chicken feed
Organic Chicken Feed

So, they will make regular low whispers or chatters to make sure they can hear each other.

If they can’t, or if another chicken sounds the alarm call (which we’ll talk about in a moment), they will act right away.

If you raise chickens for exhibits or raise as pets, you might also hear this kind of chicken sound when you groom them or hold them on your lap.

If you pet your chicken, you’ll know it’s happy because it will make some low, pleasant chicken sounds.

Chirping

Chicks usually make a sound called “chirping.” They make a lot of noise because chirps are the only way they can tell how they’re feeling. All of their chirps sound about the same, but there are small differences between them.

The chick is usually happy when it makes a soft peep. If the chicks make high-pitched chirps, it could mean that they are in trouble. This usually means that the chicks are cold or hungry.

If a chick is scared or surprised, it will chirp more quickly. When a person picks them up and takes them away from their mother is a common example.

When you put them back, they usually stop chirping. When chicks are excited, they may also make a rising trill sound.

Crowing

If you are wondering, “What sound does a rooster make?” the answer is usually “crowing.” It is possible for hens to join in, but it doesn’t happen very often.

Roosters usually crow to wake people up in the morning. It lets all the birds know it’s time to start hunting for bugs. It’s also how a rooster lets others know where his territory is.

If there are more than one rooster on your property, the “head rooster” will always be the first one to crow. He is the only rooster who can crow before anyone else.

Some roosters will also crow when the chickens go into the coop at night. He will make a “roll call” or “chicken roosting call” to make sure that all the hens go back to the coop for the night.

If the keeper counts the chickens before bed, the rooster might not be as likely to make this call.

Predator Alerts Chicken Sounds

This is the most important call for you to hear.

A hen and a rooster will call out for danger in different ways. But most of the time, it will be too high, too loud, and too sharp.

Even though roosters are more likely to make a predator alert call to warn the rest of the flock of a threat, you might hear it from a more dominant hen or even from other chickens in a small flock.

10 Most Common Fascinating Chicken Sounds and How to Decode Its Meaning

These chicken noises could be loud, piercing cries, or they could be long bellows.

You may hear a distress call that sounds like notes that were copied quickly. This doesn’t always mean that your flock is being attacked, but rather that something dangerous is going on and the birds are telling each other to be careful.

A repeated alarm sound is another type of call you might hear. This sounds like a repeated cackle and is an even stronger sign that a predator is close.

The last type of predator call you might hear is often called an “air raid.”

This is the most scary sound your chickens can make, and it will probably make you run out to the chicken cage with whatever weapon you can find.

cochin rooster
Cochin Rooster

An air raid noise is a loud, too recognizable noise.

This sound lets you know that the flock is still in a threat. If you hear these chicken noises, it could mean that a raccoon is getting close to the run, a hawk is flying above, or a possum is hiding nearby.

See also  10 Amazing Reasons to Raise Barred Rock Chickens

The bottom line is that you should check on your chickens right away if you hear a noise that sounds scary and is unusual in any way.

There’s a chance that some kind of predator is after your chickens.

Low-Pitched Calling

Roosters are known for being loud, but they can also make low sounds. If a rooster finds food for his hens, he will let them know by making a noise that sounds like “tuk, tuk, tuk.”

This rooster’s noise sounds like what hens make when they feed their chicks. The roosters feed the hens first and then eat what is left.

If a rooster wants to mate with a hen, he might also make a low-pitched call. They make a low, repeated sound that sounds like “gog, gog, gog.”

This sound is part of his dance to try to get a hen to mate with him. Usually, when he makes those sounds, he will circle the hen.

Parenting and Chick Chatter Chicken Sounds

A hen can talk to her chicks in two ways: while they are still in the egg and after they are hatched.

Here are the different ways a mother hen will treat her young chicks.

cochin chicken hen

Did you know that hens will start talking to their chicks before they have even hatched? A mother hen will talk to her chick, just like a pregnant woman will talk to her baby.

This sounds like clucking and purring, and she will do it quietly because she doesn’t want to wake up the chick that hasn’t hatched yet.

You might see your hen do this while she is still resting on the eggs or when she wants to get up and move the eggs under her.

People think that a mother hen clucks and purrs to her chicks to get them used to the sound of her voice, even though the exact reasons aren’t always clear.

Chicken Feeding Guide
Chicken Feeding Guide

It’s interesting to hear this noise when the chicks are still in the egg for the last few days.

You will be able to hear them talking back to their moms as they peep back.

When your hen reacts, she encourages the chicks to get out of the shell by telling them they will be safe once they do.

When your chicks hatch, you might also hear your hens talking to them. This is partly to get them used to the order of things, but also to teach them.

She will cluck at her chicks as she teaches them things like how to eat, drink, and clean themselves.

Researchers have looked at how the voice of a hen changes when she talks to her chicks.

If her chicks are having trouble in any way, the hen will talk less so that her chicks can understand what she is trying to say.

Free range chicken farming
Free Range Farming

Chicks usually start making their own versions of warning or distress calls when they are still small.

Most of the time, a chick sends out a distress signal because it feels threatened or lost.

If a chick is stuck in some way, it may send out a distress signal from time to time.

When the mother hen rushes over to see if her chicks are in danger, she will either bring them back to her nest or make a soft roaring sound if she thinks they are still in danger.

This will teach the chicks to stay right where they are or run back to their mothers. Most of the time, this noise sounds more like a deep, soft clucking.

On the other hand, the chicks will also make their own unique chicken sounds.

baby day old chicks
Day Old Chicks

If you raise chicks without a hen, like if you incubate your eggs, you will get used to hearing these sounds by yourself. You might hear friendly, light peeps or trills. There are also often soft buzzing sounds.

All of these sounds are great and exactly what you want to hear. All these sounds mean is that your chickens are happy and content.

If you hear the same loud, insistent sounds over and over again, this could mean that something is wrong.

The chicks could be in danger from a predator, the brooder could be too hot or too cold, or they could run out of food or water. This may sound like a sharp double trill or a single peep with a lot of stress.

how long does a chicken egg to hatch

Listen to your baby chicks carefully, because they can tell you a lot about themselves.

Most of the time, a single high-pitched peep means nothing, but it could mean that your girl was startled by something.

It could also mean that your chicks are stressed and you need to take care of the situation right away.

Food Signals  Chicken Sounds

If there is food nearby and one chicken finds it, you can be sure that the others will find it, too.

When a hen finds food, she will call to her chicks, and many breeds of roosters will do the same thing.

No matter what gender the chicken is, it will make a series of dull clicking sounds to let the other birds know there is food nearby.

You might notice that your chickens make these sounds more often when they find something unusual and tasty, like mealworms, than when they are just eating in their feeder.

This is because this sound is more often associated with having fun than with being hungry.

Roosting Calls Chicken Sounds

Is it getting close to bedtime, if you know what I mean?

If so, you might hear your chickens talking as they get ready to go to sleep.

Depending on the type of chickens you have, the roosters may even start making short, loud calls to get all the hens to come into the cage.

10 Most Common Fascinating Chicken Sounds and How to Decode Its Meaning

Some roosters will walk in a circle around the cage until all of their hens are safe inside.

Otherwise, a roosting call will sound the same for both sexes. It will be loud, low-pitched, and usually repeated.

This happens when night falls, telling the rest of your birds that it’s time to go to sleep.

Mating Invitations Chicken Sounds

Most of the sounds made during mating will come from the rooster. Most of the time, these are low, deep, and rumbly.

You’ll also hear these sounds when the rooster is ready to mate by doing things like circling the hen and snapping his wings on the ground.

mating invitations chicken sounds
Mating Invitations

This noise means that a rooster is ready to mate with a hen, and yes, you may hear it more than once a day!

On the other hand, hens usually don’t make any sounds when they are courting.

When a rooster calls and they don’t see him, they will sometimes let out sharp sobs of surprise.

Distress Signal Chicken Sounds

There are many different sounds a chicken can make to let you know it’s in trouble.

But many of these look like the sounds made by chickens that warn other chickens of danger, but not always.

Sounds that chickens make can also be a sign that they are hurt or sick. Most of the time, they are also made by chickens that have been separated from the flock.

10 Most Common Fascinating Chicken Sounds and How to Decode Its Meaning

A chicken that has been pecked or hurt makes a startled squawk. This is usually short, to the point, and clear.

It’s like us saying “Ow!” when we hurt our toes.

You might also hear a long, loud, high-pitched cry from a chicken that has been caught and is being moved away from the flock.

See also  Top 10 Biggest, Heaviest and Largest Chicken Breeds

You can expect to hear this sound if you hold your chickens up and are not used to it or if a predator has taken your chicken.

How Can I Get My Chickens to Be Quiet?

Most of the time, you don’t need to try to make your chickens quiet.

Chickens are biologically designed to make loud chicken sounds, and they do so to tell you (and each other) that everything is fine or that something is wrong.

If you live in a city or are otherwise annoyed by the idea of chickens making noise, there are some things you can do to get them to be quieter.

Consider your Breed

Some chicken breeds are calmer and less likely to be noisy than others.

When looking for a quieter chicken breed, consider one that is more tame and calm.

Here are some excellent alternatives:

  • Australorps
  • Buff Orpingtons
  • Wyandottes
  • Brahmas
  • Barred Rocks
  • Cochins
  • Mottled Javas
  • Speckled Sussex
  • Rhode Island Reds
  • Silkies
  • Javas.

 

cochin rooster
Cochin Rooster

On the other hand, a few of the loudest chicken breeds you can raise consist of:

  • Polish
  • Welsummers
  • Easter Eggers
  • Araucana     

But keep in mind that a chicken’s noise level is mostly determined by its personality, not always by its breed. You can’t be sure that the breed you choose will always be quieter.

Adhere to Hens Only

Roosters make more chicken sounds than hens, which is why many cities and towns limit how many roosters you can have. You can either have one or none at all.

dual purpose chicken breeds
Dual Purpose Chicken Breeds

Keeping only hens can help cut down on some chicken noises, but not all.

Consider Training Your Chickens

Some people who keep chickens in their backyards will tell you to teach your chickens to be calm. We suggest that you do this with care.

You can teach your birds not to scream by spraying them with water from a spray bottle. However, this is not a good idea, especially if you live in an area where predators are common.

are chickens smart
Is Chicken Smart?

Remember that when chickens squawk, shout, and peck, they are trying to alert each other or you to something that might not be right.

You don’t have to worry about some chicken sounds, but you should be careful about “noise-training” your chickens.

Is There Such Thing as a Quiet Chicken?

Yes, there is, but it isn’t a good one.

Chickens make all kinds of chicken sounds. Some chicken breeds are quieter than others, but they all make noise at some point or another.

hens stopped laying eggs

Chicken Laying EggsChickens can be quiet sometimes, but if you have a chicken that is always quiet, it might be something to worry about. Even though shy birds might not interact with other chickens as much, you can sometimes hear them chatter or murmur.

If your chicken isn’t making any noises, you should check on its health. Make sure they look healthy and aren’t acting strange.

If you separate hens from the rest of the flock, many of them will become sad and quiet. This is why you shouldn’t do it unless you have to.

Some chickens just have “off days,” but a visit to the vet can’t hurt if you can’t figure out why your hen isn’t making noises. If a hen is always quite, it could mean that something is wrong.

Even though shy or lower-ranking birds might not make chicken sounds as much as more dominant birds, all birds will make sounds at some point during the day.

Some chickens are just scared. But if your chickens don’t make any noise at all, something may be wrong.

Use the chicken sounds to help you figure out how healthy and happy your flock is. They can be a great way to tell if a chicken is sick, hurt, or having trouble with predators.

smart chickens

If you don’t think chickens can socialize, you should think again.

These particular birds have their own language.

Even though we might not know it all the time, knowing the difference between the most common chicken sounds is the easiest way to make sure our chickens are happy, healthy, and productive in the long term.

Frequently Asked Questions

Many people have questions about what chicken sounds mean. So, here are some questions you might have after learning about this unusual language.

What are the most quiet chicken breeds?

Even though all chickens make noises sometimes, there are some breeds that are less noisy others. Some of the most quiet chicken breeds include Buff Orpingtons, Ameraucanas, and Rhode Island Reds.

They’re great options for people who keep chickens in their yards.

Which chicken breeds make the most noise?

Most hens don’t make a lot of noise, so they won’t bother your neighbors. Roosters, on the other hand, are the loudest chickens you can have in your flock.

No matter what kind of rooster you have, it will crow loudly in the morning and at other times of the day. So, you shouldn’t keep roosters near other people’s homes.

Easter Eggers, Welsummers, and Araucanas are just a few breeds that are known for being loud. But this is different for each chicken.

Can You Train a Noisy Chicken?

No, you can’t teach a chicken not to make noise. All chickens make noises now and then because that’s how they show how they feel and talk to each other.

But there are a few ways to quiet down the hens in your coop. Having a small flock without a rooster is a good way to start. Keeping the enclosure clean and safe is another way to keep the stressed chatter down.

Even if your chickens make less noise, you won’t be able to stop it all. So, it’s best to keep chickens on a large property so they have plenty of space from your neighbors.

Why do chickens make noise?

Chickens make noise for a lot of different reasons, but mostly to talk to each other. Because they have a wide range of sounds, they can tell others when they are happy, angry, or scared. Your flock might not feel as safe and happy without these noises.

Summary

Any person who raise chickens will need to get used to the sounds they make. Some chickens are more noisy than others, but they all make noises. So, keep this in mind if you want to buy more chickens, make sure you have enough space so they don’t bother your neighbors.

Now that you know what the chickens in your flock are saying when they make common chicken sounds, you’ll be able to understand them better. It should help you take better care of them and make sure they are healthy.

References:

  1. Caro, Tim (2005). Antipredator Defenses in Birds and Mammals. University of Chicago Press. p. 250. ISBN 9780226094366.
  2. Why Do Roosters Crow?: First Questions and Answers about Farms. Time-Life for Children. 1995. ISBN 9780783508993.
  3. Caughey, Melissa (2015). A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens: Best Breeds, Creating a Home, Care, and Handling, Outdoor Fun, Crafts and Treats. Storey Publishing. p. 90

 

 

 

 

 

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