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Squawks the chicken language
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Squawks the chicken language

You may know that roosters crow and hens cluck away all day long, but did you know that chickens have their own language? Chickens have over 30 different calls, each with its own specific meaning. All the sounds chickens make may just seem like unnecessary noise to use, but to other chickens, the sounds are very important messages to communicate things such as danger.

Most of the communicating chickens do, is relied nonverbally through body language, but there are a few distinct calls that chickens use for particular purposes. Let’s take a look at the meaning of some chicken sounds.

Look An Egg!

This is the most distinct chicken call made by a hen and should be recognised by all chicken keepers. Hens are proud creatures and thus wants everyone around to know that they’ve just produced an egg. This is a celebratory call of sorts and other members of the flock sometimes choose to join in. Each chicken has an individual egg song and these songs can also differ from breed to breed.

It’s An Egg Emergency!

You may hear this call prior to a hen laying her egg. This usually happens when they need to lay, but can’t get to the nesting boxes or when the nesting boxes are too full. This call sounds slightly distressed because when the egg is coming she’s got to lay!

Food Call

Chickens really love their food, so if they’re quiet around feeding time, you might have some sick chickens on your hands. Chickens have a range of different calls for different food types they come across. Each call will depend on the type of food or snacks offered. If they come across something particularly tasty, the calls will be higher pitched and more excited compared to their calls for normal everyday snacks.

Rooster Calls

If you’re lucky enough to have a mixed flock with both roosters and hens, then you will pick up on some unique calls shared between the sexes. A rooster will often call his hens when he finds a particularly tasty morsel. He will make an excited, low clucking sound to alert the hens to his findings. Roosters usually do this to gain the trust of the hens in the hope that they will mate with him and secondly to ensure his flock gets the proper nutrition it needs.

Warning Calls

Chickens are social creatures and will do what they can to keep each other safe. Being the clever creatures that they are, they have calls specifically for alerting the flock to danger. Chickens have unique calls for different kinds of danger. A call for a snake on the ground will differ from a call for a predatory bird in the sky. The type of call will influence the response. For the snake they chickens might take flight to higher ground, for a predatory bird they may duck down or hide in the coop, it all depends on the call.

Contact Calls

The communication shared between chicks and mother hen is very important. This communication starts even before the eggs have hatched. The mother will often respond to the soft cheeping coming from her eggs with soft coos and clucks, already establishing a bond with her chicks. Mother and babies share a very distinct language with many different clucks and cheeps that are used to keep the brood together, alert them of possible danger and to show them where the food is.

Distress Calls

Hens will notify you that they are in pain by making a distressed scream call if you accidentally step on a foot or similar. When they’re being bullied or pecked at they will also alert you with a scream of pain.

These are just some of the most common chicken calls that you should take note of. There are of course many other calls that can be quite complex that you might pick up on overtime. Spend time with your flock to learn more about their language.

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