Our chickens may not be able to talk with words and phrases like us, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a language of their own. Chickens can produce over 24 different types of sounds and call, all of which denote different meanings. Chickens can even combine these sounds to create more complex dialogue with other chickens.
We humans may not know exactly what they’re saying, but we can understand the general meaning behind different calls. Below we cover the most common chicken sounds you’ll encounter in your backyard flock:
The Egg Song
The most common type of chicken sound (and the one we’re the most familiar with) is the egg song. This is the sound that hens make while they’re laying their eggs. The hen who lays the egg starts off, and then the other hens join with her in a wonderful chorus. The song will continue if multiple hens are laying eggs are the same time.
The best sound you’ll ever hear from your chickens is the sound happiness and contentment. It’s a sign that you’re doing the right thing as their owner and taking good care of your chickens! The sound of contentment is a low murmur, almost like a cat’s purr. It’s your chickens telling you that they feel safe and happy in your care.
Broody hens can be grumpy and irritable. They’ll show this in their sounds. Get too close to a brooding hen and they’ll grow, hiss, or even scream at you. Don’t take this personally—your hen just wants to keep her eggs safe. She’ll also be dealing with a lot of hormones during this stage, which would make anyone a little grumpy.
Eventually, a broody hen will settle down and those growls and hisses will turn into soft coos and murmurs. This is the loving sounds of a mother speaking to her unborn chicks. Once the chicks hatch, her murmurs will turn into low-pitched clucking sounds, a signal that her chicks should stay close to her. The mother may also let out a deep guttural sound if there is danger nearby and she wants her chicks to run for cover.
When danger is near, chickens will let out a range of alarms to let the rest of the flock know. The type of alarm they let out will depend on the danger—it’s like when we yell “wolf!” when there’s a wolf or “fire!” when there’s a fire. In general, you’ll hear two types of alarms. The first is a repetitive clucking that becomes faster and louder as the predator approaches. The rest of the flock will then run to safety. The second sounds like a scream or shriek. This occurs when there is danger circling overhead, typically in the form of a hawk. In response, the flock will either run to safety or freeze in place.
Finally, there are food calls. We all know that chickens love their food, and they express their joy with a series of “tuk, tuk, tukking” noises. You will also hear this noise from mother hens when they tell their chicks it’s time to eat. Just like our own parents call us for dinnertime, so too do chickens!
Have further questions about caring for your backyard flock? Then contact Chickens for Backyards today!