Have you ever heard a rooster crowing loudly during the morning sunrise or near sunset? If you have, then you must have wondered “Why do roosters crow?” Roosters have long been an icon of the farm and countryside. They have been used to wake up farmers and announce the start of the day.
But why do roosters crow? In this post, you will discover the answer to this age-old mystery and learn about the fascinating behavior of these feathered creatures.
Why Do Roosters Crow?
Roosters are well-known birds that are found everywhere you look, at least in rural areas. They are usually sporting their bright colors and long tail feathers. They are also known for their loud crowing and often serve as farm mascots.
Roosters are capable of producing many different sounds. They can make clucking noises, crowing noises, and other calls that are used to talk with other roosters and hens.
Their crowing can actually reach the same, or higher, level of decibels as machinery such as a chainsaw! Ouch!
But what does crowing mean?
Don’t Roosters Crow at the Sunrise?
The answer to this question is not as straightforward as it may seem. To the surprise of many new chicken keepers, roosters can crow at all times of day, and often do.
For a long time, it was thought that the morning light was what caused a rooster to crow. However, a few studies have shown otherwise. Scientists have discovered that even when roosters are kept in constant light their internal clock kicks in and the crowing schedule resumes.
They found that roosters have an internal circadian rhythm. This means, that regardless of the light level, roosters will start to crow according to this rhythm. So now we know one of the reasons roosters start to crow a little before sunrise. And here I thought my rooster was a genius!
Do Roosters Crow Throughout the Day?
While it is true that roosters have this internal clock and will often crow at dawn, or even dusk, there are a number of other factors that can cause them to do so.
One such factor is a change in the environment, such as the presence of predators or loud noises. They will send a warning to their flock by crowing and loudly clucking. Thank you Mr. Rooster!
Roosters also crow in order to establish their territory and dominance within the flock. They even crow as changes in their social hierarchy occur.
When a rooster crows, he lets other roosters know that he is in charge and that he is the one who will protect the flock. This is why roosters will often crow when they are feeling threatened or when they sense a change in their environment.
Males will also crow during their mating rituals which supports some claims that a rise in testosterone causes them to want to flaunt their dominance.
Roosters can be quite personable, and it shows. When I visit my coop my roosters will often crow happily at me, as their way of begging for treats! It’s quite cute. If you want to try it, check out my favorite chicken treats (they love these treats and they are packed full of nutrients).
Who’s the Boss?
Roosters, regardless of the breed, are highly social and will establish a hierarchical system within their flock, which is also true of hens. This is where we get the phrase “pecking order.”
Regardless of how many roosters you have in your flock – one rooster will likely become the head rooster.
The dominant rooster, or the boss, will usually be the one that is the most vocal and will often be the one that crows the most. The other roosters in the flock will recognize the roosters’ social rank and will follow his lead.
How Roosters Respond to Different Stimuli
Roosters are also very sensitive to different stimuli, such as light and sound. They will often crow in response to loud noises or when the sun rises or sets. While that is common, you might not know that they will even sometimes crow when headlights or a flashlight shines toward them.
They can also be startled by sudden movements or changes in their environment. As a side note, this is why it’s important to be aware of your surroundings when you are around roosters. You don’t want to surprise your rooster, trust me.
The Benefits of Roosters Crowing
Roosters’ crowing is definitely a beneficial thing for the flock. From alerting the flock to potential danger or changes in the environment to establishing the social hierarchy within the flock. But, in my opinion, it can be beneficial for people too.
The crowing of roosters can be a familiar and nostalgic sound for humans. I’ve heard many people talk about how it reminds them of their grandparents or their own upbringing. Not many turn their nose up at the sound of “cock-a-doodle-doo” unless it’s an unwanted alarm clock of course.
Crowing can also alert people. In fact, I’ve gone out to my coop more than once to see what all the crowing was about – only to find an uninvited neighbor dog in the area. It’s also been my call to open the coop door (because I forgot to and the flock is angry).
Rooster Crowing Quick Facts
- Roosters do not just crow in the morning
- Roosters have an internal clock
- Crowing helps set the hierarchy between roosters
- Roosters crow as an alarm for dangers or concerns
- Crowing is part of the chicken mating ritual
- Roosters can crow simply to communicate (just as begging for treats)
- Crowing can serve as a wake-up call
Roosters are fascinating creatures, and one of their most intriguing (and sometimes mysterious) behaviors is their crowing. Chicken keepers oftentimes want roosters around their coop, not only for their egg fertilizing and protection skills but also for their nostalgic crowing.
Believe it or not, there are even some chicken keepers that have given up stereotypical backyard chickens and have started keeping bachelor flocks. I recently sold a rooster to a lady that keeps a bachelor flock because she doesn’t care about egg-laying. She absolutely loves her little bug-eating colony of roo’s. Read more about bachelor flocks here (it’s an interesting read).
A happy wife, mother, teacher, writer, hobby farmer, lover of chickens, and contributor to Pampered Chicken Mama!