Why Do Roosters Crow?

Next to the bark of a dog or the gentle meowing of a cat, the crow of a rooster is one of the most recognisable animal noises on Earth; but why exactly do roosters feel the need to crow and is there any truth to the idea that they crow more (or only) in the morning?

First and foremost, its important for us to point out that roosters will crow at all times and in response to a range of seemingly innocuous stimuli, like the sound of a car or someone walking into their coop. However, after years of anecdotal stories about roosters seemingly knowing when day break was about to occur, scientists at Nagoya University in Japan decided to see if this was just in peoples heads or if roosters really were anticipating, rather than reacting to, the sunrise.

In the research helmed by Takashi Yoshimura several experiments were run on roosters to answer these questions. As expected, with all groups, the roosters crowed at all times of day in response to a variety of stimuli, like being fed. Furthermore, due to the fact that roosters cant be tricked into crowing at other times of day as strongly as they do around dawn, the researchers concluded that their internal clocks take precedence over external cues.

As for why roosters seem to love to crow in the mornings, this isnt fully understood, but is thought to be tied with the aforementioned notion of crowing being primarily about announcing territory and where a particular rooster sees itself on the pecking order. This would also explain why roosters seem to crow in response to things like the sound of cars; they assume that such noises must be a potential rival and respond in kind.

Do roosters crow for a reason?

Roosters can crow for all kinds of reasons. The most common reason is the wake up crow. This is simply their way of saying good morning and leading the flocks out to forage. However roosters can also crow to warn their flock or to announce a territorial boundary.

How do you get a rooster to stop crowing?

Reduce the competition. A large part of why roosters crow is to show other roosters who’s in charge. ….Confuse him. Image Credit: WandererCreative, Pixabay. ….Entertain him. ….There may actually be a reason. ….Keep him alone. ….Use a rooster collar. ….Try surgery.

Do roosters crow for attention?

Often, roosters crow to warn his hens of the presence of a predator and to scare the predator away. If there’s an unwanted guest visiting the coop at night, your rooster may be on high alert all day.

Why do roosters crow at the wrong time?

Your rooster may mistake a bright light for dawn and start crowing because he thinks dawn is coming, even though sunrise is many hours away. If the light is constantly on at night — for example, a streetlight — then your rooster may well crow all night.

Half of all chicken eggs that get hatched will be roosters and the other half hens. While hens are prized for their eggs, roosters are often maligned because they crow. A roosters loud and piercing cock-a-doodle-do crowing noise is the one trait thats talked about most when it comes to roosters.

Image Credit: Pixabay A rooster serves as the primary defender against danger by constantly watching over the flock. When a rooster senses danger, it will alert the flock and fight off nearly any animal that threatens his hens or their eggs.

A fight between roosters to establish whos the boss involves pecking, kicking, and scratching but it doesnt last long. Image Credit: PixabayWhen a rooster is foraging and finds something good to eat, he will announce it to the hens by crowing. Shrill and very loud, a roosters alarm call triggers the hens in the flock to instantly freeze or hide.

The birds that ignore the roosters alarm call are the ones most vulnerable to predators and they dont get any second chances. A hen out in the open doesnt stand a chance against a hungry hawk swooping in to snatch up a good meal. Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway.

There are many noises and sounds on this planet that are easily recognizable by most individualsthe barking of a dog, the meowing of a cat, and the crowing of a rooster. But the age-old question, next to why did the chicken cross the road, is why does a rooster crow?

However, since starting a flock of my own, I have found that my rooster, Screech, crows morning, noon, night, and pretty much all those times in between. Personally, I do not believe this is always true, as my Screech will start crowing as early as two hours before the break of daylight most mornings.

In Japan, scientists at Nagoya University decided to test out the anecdotal theories that have been passed down through the centuriesstories that expound that roosters have an innate ability of knowing when daybreak is about to occur. A paper was published in 2013 by Takashi Yoshimura and Tsuyoshi Shimmura, where the scientists had set out to learn if this was just a thought in peoples head, or if, in fact, it is the rooster anticipating, or feeling the coming of daybreak, rather than an instinctive reaction to the sun rising. Yoshimura and Shimmura performed several experiments, and data collected in an attempt to answer the question as to why a rooster crows and what might stimulate the action.

For a couple of weeks, the research exposed the birds to several different situations and environments, as well as a variety of stimuli, which included that of being fed. The data also showed that the lead, dominant rooster would begin to crow, and then his lesser subordinates would follow and chime in. Many flock owners are not aware that the ancestry of our current chickens of today is based in those Far Eastern countriessuch as Thailand, India, Myanmar, and China.

It is believed that the crowing of a rooster in this situation was an announcement, akin to a warning, to his neighboring fowl brethren. Chickens, as it turns out, have superb hearing, so the crowing to and from another rooster helps them in gauging just how far apart their flocks are, and if they are getting closer to one another or not. The rooster may think he hears something outside or around the coop, and then, in turn, will crow to alert the remaining flock of a possibility of there being danger nearby.

Then, yet a third theory is that they may have heard a car or a machine of some such, and the crowing is the rooster issuing a stern warning to the potential rival or danger that he is present and to keep away from his territory and his ladies. Screech will throw his chest out, flap his wings, and let out a big, boisterous crow, almost as if saying, Im the greatest in the chicken yard! Some have even gone so far to offer the theory that the morning crowing, just before daybreak, in addition to being triggered by the roosters circadian rhythm, may also be produced by a sudden surge of testosterone in the birds system.

If you track when you hear your rooster crow the most often, you find occurs most often in the morning and the early evening. One of the more popular thoughts on why roosters are prone to crowing so much is based on competition that may, in their minds, exist in the chicken yard. However, when the rooster with the hens starts to crowing, the other three feel the need to chime in offering their own two cents worth.

Fowl etiquette seems to dictate that there is a set order in which each rooster, in the chicken yard, will crow. This is where it is advantageous to have a single, solitary rooster, as since he doesnt feel he has any form of competition in the chicken yard, he is not as prone to over-crowing.

They found that roosters actually have a mean internal circadian rhythm clock of 23.8 hours and start to crow at the appointed time. This helps to explain why roosters start to crow slightly before sunrise.

In March of 2013, a paper was published by Takashi Yoshimura and Tsuyoshi Shimmura that was able to shed some light on those assumptions. Those who may not know the ancestry of our beautiful chickens, their forbears came from Far Eastern countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, India, East Indies, and China.

Crowing can be used to announce to neighboring fowl that a rooster is in residence, which is his territory and hens . Chickens have a superb sense of hearing, so the frequent crowing will give a rooster an idea if the rival flock and rooster are moving away or moving nearer. No one knows for sure, but likely reasons are hearing something outside the coop and alerting everyone to possible danger nearby.

Another theory is that perhaps a car headlight or other strong light beam disturbed them, alerting everyone of something unusual. Some roosters will crow at certain noises such as a car or tractor starting up they could perhaps be issuing a warning to the potential rival (car/tractor) to keep away from their area. After that, the rooster pecking order dictates who will crow next and so on down the line until they are all done announcing their presence.

Any bird that crows out of turn will be firmly put in his place by the head rooster. In the wild, flocks of roosters can live together harmoniously as long as the pecking order is observed. These bachelor groups will eventually split up and change as roosters start their own flocks.

Im lucky to live in the country, so my boys can be as noisy as they like, but the town or village life is a bit different. So there you have it, lots of thoughts on why roosters crow; some are proven, others are good, and some need further investigation. A rooster cannot sing like a bird, so the crow is his form of communication to a large audience.

He announces the day, guards his territory, gathers the flock, and reacting to a threat.

Why Roosters Crow

Now that you know the role of a rooster in a flock, it’s time to look into all that crowing noise roosters make! Here are the main reasons why roosters make a crowing sound.

2. A Rooster Crows to Share Food

When a rooster is foraging and finds something good to eat, he will announce it to the hens by crowing. The crowing is a way to call the hens to the food source whether the food is some seed you’ve tossed down or a group of insects crawling on the ground.

When They Crow

It is worth noting that in the case of most roosters, they do crow more often than just when the sun rises. They will crow at any time, and the crowing is more often than not usually triggered by a specific type of stimuli—such as the sound of a lawnmower or that of a stranger walking near their yard or their coop.Roosters are not too picky about when or even why they crow, they just crow. As a result, they can be seen and heard crowing at any time of the day or night, most often at the slightest, most mundane of stimuli. The old wives tale of a rooster crowing right before, or at the crack, of dawn is a sound one. Most breeds of roosters will, in fact, prone to doing this.

The Science Of Crowing

Because of their propensity to crow over anything and everything, both scientists and ornithologists (bird nerds) were under the working thought that the crowing of a rooster at the break of day was just a response, wired into their DNA, to the changing levels of from dark to light.Personally, I do not believe this is always true, as my Screech will start crowing as early as two hours before the break of daylight most mornings.In Japan, scientists at Nagoya University decided to test out the anecdotal theories that have been passed down through the centuries—stories that expound that roosters have an innate ability of “knowing” when daybreak is about to occur.A paper was published in 2013 by Takashi Yoshimura and Tsuyoshi Shimmura, where the scientists had set out to learn if this was just a thought in peoples head, or if, in fact, it is the rooster anticipating, or feeling the coming of daybreak, rather than an instinctive reaction to the sun rising.

Gathering The Data

Yoshimura and Shimmura performed several experiments, and data collected in an attempt to answer the question as to why a rooster crows and what might stimulate the action. For a couple of weeks, the research exposed the birds to several different situations and environments, as well as a variety of stimuli, which included that of being fed.The long and the short of it all is that a rooster may crow for a specific reason, and then other times he may crow for no reason at—almost as if for the sheer fun of it or simply out of a sense of boredom. On the other hand, when he does crow, the crowing of a rooster can serve several essential functions, some of which we will look at now.

Greeting The Sun

During Yoshimura and Shimmura’s research, a select flock of roosters was all exposed to a controlled environment in which there were twelve continuous hours of light, rotating with twelve continuous hours of dark. This exposure was repeated over the course of two weeks.What the information showed was that the roosters did, in fact, anticipate the approaching daylight. They generally started crowing in pre-dawn fashion approximately two hours before the flipping on of the light each day.The scientists surmised that roosters have an internal circadian rhythm clock of approximately 23.8 hours. This internal clock is what triggers roosters to crow at a preset, appointed time. They also surmised that this is the trigger that stimulates roosters to begin their crowing shortly before sunrise.The data also showed that the lead, dominant rooster would begin to crow, and then his lesser subordinates would follow and chime in. One can imagine just how loud and noisy this can become if you have more than one rooster in your flock.

Establishing Territory

Many flock owners are not aware that the ancestry of our current chickens of today is based in those Far Eastern countries—such as Thailand, India, Myanmar, and China. Most often, these birds could be found residing in those dense areas containing massive vegetation, such as jungles. This, in turn, would give them great coverage and would make them difficult to see, even by other birds such as themselves.It is believed that the crowing of a rooster in this situation was an announcement, akin to a warning, to his neighboring fowl brethren. He would be making it known to any other roosters around that he had not only taken up residence in the area but that he had also laid claim to the territory for himself and his hens.These roosters are also thought to have used crowing as a means to call back and forth to one another so the other roosters and their flocks would now where they were.Even today, you will hear several roosters crow back and forth. Chickens, as it turns out, have superb hearing, so the crowing to and from another rooster helps them in gauging just how far apart their flocks are, and if they are getting closer to one another or not.By knowing where another flock, and thus its rooster, is can aid in lessening potential fights with rivals. Although a rooster will fight, it is not something they really like to do. There is too much of a potential of the rooster getting defeated, injured, or even killed.

Dominance

When it comes to a flock, it all about the most dominant bird—and that is the rooster. When chickens live together in a group, referred to as a flock, the highest-rank, the most dominant rooster will always be the one to crow first. He will then be followed by those roosters beneath him, lower down in the “pecking order.”Even though the lesser roosters may have their internal clocks telling them it is time to start crowing, they will wait for the head rooster to kick it all off. We have all heard of the term “pecking order,” and when it comes to a flock, its members will follow it to a tee.The most dominant member of any flock will peck at the other members, and they take the punishment and accept it. Although nature has hardwired it into all roosters to acquiesce to their inner circadian rhythm, research has shown that they will wait and let the dominant rooster determine when the chorus will begin. I mean, seriously, who knew that chickens were that polite to one another?

Crowing At Night

Okay, now let’s go ahead and address the elephant in the room—yes, roosters do and will crow at night. Why you might be asking, do they do that? Well, the short answer is that no one really knows for sure.Many chicken “experts” believe that crowing at night may be a security measure. The rooster may think he hears something outside or around the coop, and then, in turn, will crow to alert the remaining flock of a possibility of there being danger nearby.Then there is another working theory out there as to crowing at night. Some believe that the crowing may have been been triggered by a car headlight, or another such light, that disturbed them from their slumber. When this happens, again, the rooster may crow to alert the others in the coop.Then, yet a third theory is that they may have heard a car or a machine of some such, and the crowing is the rooster issuing a stern warning to the potential rival or danger that he is present and to keep away from his territory and his ladies.

Impressing The Ladies

Now, I know this belief, when it comes to my Screech, is a sound assumption. Some roosters, in an effort to boast about their ability for satisfying their hens, will crow after they have mated. I mean, really? No one likes a braggart! But, in the chicken world, it seems that roosters are prone to being a tell-all kind of mate. Screech will throw his chest out, flap his wings, and let out a big, boisterous crow, almost as if saying, “I’m the greatest in the chicken yard!”Some have even gone so far to offer the theory that the morning crowing, just before daybreak, in addition to being triggered by the rooster’s circadian rhythm, may also be produced by a sudden surge of testosterone in the bird’s system. Although just a theory, it is sounds just as probable and any of the others mentioned.If you track when you hear your rooster crow the most often, you find occurs most often in the morning and the early evening. These times of day coincide with when he is believed to be the most sexually potent.There are those roosters that, when one of his hens has laid her egg, he will crow. It is almost as if he is proclaiming, to any possible competition, that he is the man and not only are his hens well taken care of and fertile, but he is fertile as well.

Competition In the Chicken Yard

One of the more popular thoughts on why roosters are prone to crowing so much is based on competition that may, in their minds, exist in the chicken yard. Now, this thought may carry some merit. Let me explain. I have a cousin who has four roosters and twenty hens. He had one rooster that he keeps with the ladies, and the other three roosters share their own chicken version of a bachelor pad.Seeing that the three roosters are housed off by themselves, they do not, by nature, recognize the one rooster with the hens as the top dog, as it were. However, when the rooster with the hens starts to crowing, the other three feel the need to chime in offering their own two cents worth.When all is the hallabalu and done, and the crowing dies down, the lead rooster will always have the last crow. That same lead rooster, according to my cousin, will always make sure to travel around the perimeter of the pen of the bachelor roosters at least a few times a day. He says the rooster even tries to taunt the other roosters into fighting, knowing good and well that he is safe—talk about bravery!Now it may actually be a fact that all this posturing and crowing may not be the nature of other roosters, and may be specific to his rooster, or may even the rooster’s breed. Either way, I am sure it is a sight to see and hear.

The Etiquette Of Crowing

Like most things in this life, when it comes to a flock of chickens, there is a certain etiquette that must be followed. And never even more so than when you have multiple roosters within earshot of each other.Fowl etiquette seems to dictate that there is a set order in which each rooster, in the chicken yard, will crow. As is expected, the head rooster, the big cheese, will be the first to commence the crowing. After him, it flows downhill according to the set pecking order. This order dictates the rooster that will crow next, and then the rooster after that, and so on, until they have all sounded off as to their presence.Each rooster knows its place in the chorus, and if by chance one tries to one-up another one, the head rooster will make sure to put the defiant bird in its place. The only time the disobedience is dealt with, is when the head rooster is old, weak, or sick. It is then that one of the younger roosters will step forward, issue a challenge, and fight the head rooster for his place at the top of the hierarchy.Roosters in the wild, as it turns out, most often live in harmony. That is as long as all the members of the flock respect and observe the established pecking order. These groups of self-proclaimed bachelors will, over time, split off into their own flocks, with their own hens.Those individuals who keep flocks with more than one rooster are able to differentiate the crow of one rooster from another. There is a subtle difference in each bird’s crow, so much so that the owners are able to put the crow with the bird that is belting it out.

The Loudness Of The Crow

Many people think that the crow of a rooster is loud—very loud. However, the crow isn’t really loud at all. In fact, when measured in decibels, a roosters crow measures in line with that of a barking dog—being around 90 decibels give or take.Any rooster, no matter what breed, will be a crower—there is simply no such thing as a rooster that will not and does not crow. For that reason, it seems that they get a bad rap for being noisy, and in all fairness, this is not so.For many, the source of their irritation with a crowing rooster is explicit. The rooster will crow in the mornings, and if the individual in question is not a morning person, then the crowing will not be met with delight, but with annoyance instead.

The Length Of The Crow

In actuality, the crow of a rooster, or his “cock-a-doodle-do,” can last for as long as he wants to repeat it. However, oftentimes once he has announced his presence and reminded all within crowing distance of his territory, he will usually settle down. That is until something else serves to get him riled up.This is where it is advantageous to have a single, solitary rooster, as since he doesn’t feel he has any form of competition in the chicken yard, he is not as prone to “over-crowing.”Then again, if you were to have a Kosovo Long Crower Rooster, you would have a rooster that crows for 15 seconds or longer. Or what about the Drenica—which crows for an unbelievable 30 seconds.

Do Quiet Roosters Exist?

In a simple word—NO!Although some roosters will crow far less than others, all roosters at one point or another will and do crow. If you ever find yourself owning more that one rooster, you will learn this very fast. Once one starts, they all join in on the cacophony.Even the smaller breeds, such as the Bantams, will crow. Although their crow is more akin to a high pitched piercing shrill that some say runs along their nerves. Their crow is in no manner similar to the deeper crow of your standard-sized rooster.

Keeping Your Rooster Quiet

In all honesty, there is no fool-proof manner in which to keep a rooster totally quiet—sorry to say. However, that is not to say that flock owners don’t have aren’t a few options floating around out there that may help take the noise down a notch or two.You could try a no crow collar, which is designed to interfere when the rooster tries to expel air from its lungs. These are advantageous as in that they will help dimmish the crowing somewhat, without posing any problems with eating, drinking, or breathing—it just helps to diminish the volume of the crow.

Crowing at Sunrise

Until relatively recently, it was assumed by many that roosters crew in response to the daybreak.In fact, many roosters will crow a couple of hours before daybreak, and no one had really done any research into the matter.In March of 2013, a paper was published by Takashi Yoshimura and Tsuyoshi Shimmura that was able to ‘shed some light on those assumptions.They found that roosters actually have a mean internal circadian rhythm clock of 23.8 hours and start to crow at the appointed time. This helps to explain why roosters start to crow slightly before sunrise.The head rooster will lead off in the crowing, followed by his subordinates. As you can imagine, it can get quite noisy if you have more than one rooster.The rooster does also crows in response to the daylight, and humans tend to notice this particular time of crowing because we, too, are just starting to emerge from a deep sleep.We probably find it annoying because we want to go back to sleep for a few hours!

Announcing Their Territory

Those who may not know the ancestry of our beautiful chickens, their forbears came from Far Eastern countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, India, East Indies, and China.They found most of these birds in the jungle and dense areas of vegetation where they would be difficult to see – even by other birds.Crowing can be used to announce to neighboring fowl that a rooster is in residence, which is his territory and hens. They likely called back and forth to let the other flocks know where they were.Oftentimes you will hear them crowing back and forth to each other. Chickens have a superb sense of hearing, so the frequent crowing will give a rooster an idea if the rival flock and rooster are moving away or moving nearer.Their hearing is so acute that they can determine where a noise comes from with almost pinpoint accuracy!Making other potential rivals aware of his presence probably avoided a few fights between rival roosters. Although they will fight, they don’t really like to. The potential for injury, death, or defeat is great.An injured chicken would be easy prey for a larger predator in the wild.

Night Time Crowing

Anyone who has roosters knows that they will crow at night too! Why is that?No one knows for sure, but likely reasons are hearing something outside the coop and alerting everyone to possible danger nearby.Another theory is that perhaps a car headlight or other strong light beam disturbed them, alerting everyone of something unusual.Some roosters will crow at certain noises such as a car or tractor starting up – they could perhaps be issuing a warning to the potential rival (car/tractor) to keep away from their area.

Mating and Crowing

Some roosters like to crow after mating; no one likes a tell-all kind of guy, right? It is possibly a crow that means something likeIt has been theorized that the morning crowing ritual is initiated by a morning surge of testosterone in the rooster.Although just a theory at present, this idea may be a good one. A rooster is at his most sexually potent in the morning and early evening.Both times is when crowing is usually heard more frequently.Some roosters will crow after the hen has laid an egg. While we can’t be sure, perhaps this is a way of letting the competition know his hens’ are fertile, and so is he!

Competition between Roosters

Another idea that has floated around for a while is that it’s a competition between roosters.I have a total of 9 roosters here on the farm. Several are penned away from the main group, so they do not recognize the main rooster as their ‘boss.’They will start crowing, and each rooster will take it up until they all crow. The head rooster in the yard will always be the last to crow – it’s like he has to have the last word!He also makes his rounds of the rooster pens to try to goad the penned rooster into a fight. It is somewhat unfair since they can’t hurt him in any way.They respond with the right moves for settling a score. Whether or not this is common is not really known, so that it could be an individual roosters’ personality trait.

Crowing Etiquette

If there is more than one rooster in the flock, there is a set order in which the crowing should go.The head rooster must crow first. After that, the rooster pecking order dictates who will crow next and so on down the line until they are all done announcing their presence.Any bird that crows out of turn will be firmly put in his place by the head rooster. If the lead rooster is old, sick, or weak, a younger rooster will issue a challenge, and a fight will ensue.The winner takes all. The loser may stay with the flock but maybe so shamed that he will go off independently.In the wild, flocks of roosters can live together harmoniously as long as the pecking order is observed. These bachelor groups will eventually split up and change as roosters start their own flocks.Anyone who has more than one rooster will tell you that each rooster’s crow is different. Each bird has a subtle variation on the crow, and you can pick out which bird is crowing.

How Loud Is a Rooster’s Crow?

There are definitely times when a rooster crows for a particular reason. There are other times when he will crow for no particular reason – at least, not that humans know about anyway.Perhaps it’s boredom or just checking the neighborhood for stray roosters, or just because he wants to. After allThe crow of a rooster really isn’t that loud. In decibels, it’s on a par with a barking dog – around 90 decibels. I know which I prefer and it’s not the dog!Roosters will crow, no doubt about it, there is no such thing as a ‘crow-less’ rooster, but they really do get a bad deal when folks say how noisy they are. It just isn’t so.The source of irritation is probably the fact that they like to crow early in the morning, and if you aren’t a morning person, it cannot be enjoyable.I’m lucky to live in the country, so my boys can be as noisy as they like, but the town or village life is a bit different.For more details on the rooster crows, please read our article.