12 Common Chicken Sounds and What They Mean

Chicken making a sound while perched on bamboo

Understanding chicken sounds can be an exciting part of owning backyard poultry. Every cluck, bawk, gawk, and trill carries specific meanings, and these sounds serve as the fowls’ method of communication.

So, by paying attention, you can get a rooster to come when instructed or identify when chickens like specific conditions. Knowing when a fowl is content or when it might need help can be tricky.

Fortunately, this guide will help you understand what your chickens are trying to say. Let’s begin.

12 Common Chicken Sounds and Their Meanings

1. Sleepiness

Backyard chickens making sounds due to sleepiness

At nightfall, and your backyard chickens go into the coop, you might hear a loud, low-pitched, repetitive murmuring coming from them. This sound usually means a state of sleepiness.

You can think of it as a chicken’s version of a human’s yawning and stretching before bed. It is a common sound a chicken makes as it winds down for the day, away from the hustle and bustle of the poultry farm.

On a similar note, the unique growl-like murmuring is soothing to other members of the flock and serves as a cue for everyone to settle down for the night.

2. Expressions of Curiosity

Chicken about to make curious sounds

One of the joys of keeping chickens is listening to them make curious sounds. Chickens often emit a trilling, excited sound when they stumble upon something new or intriguing in their environment.

Most of the time, this sound is typically an invitation to other chickens in your flock to come and check out the interesting find.

Whether it’s a new addition to the nest box, a different breed introduced to the coop, or even a harmless critter crossing their path, this sound means the hen or rooster is eager to share the discovery with their flockmates.

Overall, this is an adorable way of showing off how inquisitive chickens can be.

3. Feeding Call

Two hens feeding

The feeding call, often made by a rooster, is a distinct, repetitive clucking that sounds like “tuk, tuk, tuk, tuk.” The rooster performs this call to attract the hens to a discovered food source.

As soon as this sound resonates in a particular chicken coop, hens and chicks usually herd to the source, eager to peck at the food. You would not believe how fast these fowls move when they are hungry.

As you can see, this sound signifies the rooster’s role within the flock, protecting and caring for the hens and making sure that all birds have access to food.

4. Exhibiting Broodiness

Mother hen who just laid eggs

If you have hens making a lot of noise, especially if it’s a low growl that sounds hissy and urgent, it could mean that they’re waiting for their chicks to hatch.

Broodiness is the female chickens’ instinct to hatch chicks, and they’ll typically be found fluffed up in the nest box, looking quite grumpy and unwilling to move away from the area where they lay their eggs.

To be specific, the constant, persistent clucking sound is a clear signal that your hen is in this state.

Ultimately, if you notice these signs, it’s crucial to ensure the female fowl has access to food and water, as broody hens are so committed to hatching their chicks that they may neglect their own needs.

5. Signs of Contentment

Chicken running on the backyard

Just as cats purr when they’re content, you’ll be surprised to know that fowls make a similar sound. Specifically, low murmuring and purring indicate that your feathered friends are happy and satisfied.

For instance, it’s one of the many sounds you’ll hear if your chickens feel safe, well-fed, and cozy in their coop.

One evening, I was out checking on my flock comprised of different chicken breeds. As I walked closer, a distinct call floated towards me — a low, soft murmuring, like a gentle purr, enveloping the area around the coop.

I then recognized this as the contentment call. It was an affirmation that the effort I put into keeping my chickens comfortable worked.

6. Tidbitting

Majestic rooster tidbitting

Among the many sounds roosters make, tidbitting is one of the most intriguing. It’s a low, rumbly sound made by a male chicken, often when it has found a tasty meal and wants to share it with a hen.

As it makes this call, the rooster will circle the hen while flicking a wing on the ground, a behavior that’s normal in the chicken courting system. In short, the rooster shows off to the hen, attempting to attract it.

In the end, if you hear this sound in your backyard coop, you might soon see a hen lay an egg, a sign that a rooster’s courtship was successful.

7. Crowing

Rooster crowing during sunrise

One of the most distinctive chicken sounds you will hear is the crow of a rooster. In fact, if you ask anyone, “What sound does a chicken make?” the crow is the classic response.

Crowing usually happens because of a rooster’s circadian rhythm, which is regulated by light and dark. It’s also believed that this rhythmic cycle affects the production and release of certain hormones in male chickens.

Interestingly, one should remember that there’s a pecking order in every flock — the first to crow is the head rooster, and it’ll be followed by all other roosters.

Additionally, you’ll most likely hear this at dawn but don’t be surprised if your rooster crows at other times of the day, too.

8. Socializing

Chicken initiating social clucking

Have you ever wondered, “What does a chicken say when it’s just hanging out with its flock?” The answer lies in a soft, redundant sound known as social clucking.

Both hens and roosters make this sound, which is integral to the chicken talk and one of the most common chicken noises. This sound creates a constant backdrop in your coop, like a fowl’s version of casual chitchat.

As a matter of fact, whether they’re communicating about food, asserting dominance, or simply commenting on the weather, social clucking is at the core of these feathery creatures’ day-to-day interactions.

So, if you hear sounds like “gog, gog, gog,” it usually means that your chickens are engaged in their social activities, indicating a healthy and lively flock.

Even though all chickens make this sound, you might notice slight variations among different types of chickens.

9. Maternal Instincts

Mother hen communicating with its chicks

Chickens make different types of sounds, but a mother hen talking to the chicks is the most common. These females will make many sounds at their chicks, using various tones to communicate with them.

For instance, the “tuk, tuk, tuk” sound of a hen functions as a call to her chicks that the food they want is on the ground, and they can pick it up. It’s a way of showing her chicks to eat what’s available in their environment.

A low purr is another way a mother hen communicates with its young. This noise basically serves as an alarm, signaling the chicks about potential danger.

For example, if a predator or another chicken is nearby, this call immediately puts the chicks on high vigilance. The chicks then mimic such sounds in response — and this helps them keep each other safe from threats.

10. Chick Chirping

Chicks in a poultry farm

Chirping, the sound made by chicks, is a joyous thing to observe. Below is a list of the most common types of chick chirps:

  • Happiness: When the hatchlings feel good, you’ll hear their calm and steady chirping. This sound means that the chicks are warm, well-nourished, and comfortable.
  • Distress: When distressed, baby chickens make sounds that are louder and more erratic. For example, if the chicks are hungry, cold, or separated from the flock, their chirping becomes noticeably different.
  • Panic: Panic chick chirping is much more intense. It’s a desperate call that sounds like a chicken crying, which is meant to alert others about an immediate problem, such as chicks being away from their mother.

While roosters and hens make so many sounds, chicks only chirp for a few reasons, each indicating a different emotional state or need.

11. Egg-Laying Song

A hen sitting inside its nesting box

The egg-laying song, similar to when the chicks hatch, is a distinctive chicken talk like no other. This sound, which is an emphatic “buk, buk, buk, ba-gawk,” is often heard when a hen has just laid an egg.

As backyard chicken keepers, you’ll soon become familiar with this persistent, loud noise. While it might even make a chicken appear somewhat rowdy, it is vital for communication.

However, don’t be surprised to hear a series of these calls echoing around the coop. Other hens often join the chorus, amplifying the celebration.

Despite this loud expression, some chicken breeds are quieter, and their egg-laying song might not be as pronounced as others.

Either way, it’s fascinating to check on your chickens during these times, as they’ll seem to be more animated than usual.

12. Indications of Distress

Chicken crowing in distress

A chicken’s alarm cry is a vital tool for communicating distress. This sound, often sharp and loud, indicates near danger.

What’s more, this call is unlike any other chicken sound, serving as an urgent warning for the rest of the flock.

Upon hearing this cry, chickens will often chatter amongst themselves and quickly scatter, seeking refuge. It’s essential to be alert to this, as such noises mean immediate action is required to secure your herd.

Moreover, note that a small flock without a rooster might be especially vulnerable, making understanding this distinct sound vital. You may also want to add one rooster on your property for protection.

Watch this video to hear what a cry from a chicken that’s distressed sounds like:

HELP! Strange Sounds from our Hen, Is this a normal Chicken Sound?

Frequently Asked Questions

Chicken making sounds or noises

What Noises Do Chickens Make When They Are Happy?

If you hear your chickens making soft peeping calls, it’s usually a sign of happiness. These sounds may come from clucking, chirping, or singing.

Do Chickens Bawk or Cluck?

With tons of sounds that chickens make, it’s a good point to remember that both bawking and clucking are a part of their repertoire.

Typically, broody hens cluck, often when nesting. Meanwhile, both hens and roosters bawk, creating a diverse soundscape within a chicken flock.

Why Do Chickens Make a Trilling Sound?

Generally, trilling chicken sounds mean that fowls are content, happy, and excited. However, it’s crucial to note that high-pitched trills could also be an alarm, indicative of a possible threat or distress.

What Does a Chicken With a Cold Sound Like?

Chickens have a different sound when they’re unwell, particularly when having a cold. It’s usually characterized by a rattling noise to their breathing, quite unlike their usual clucks or gawks.

For instance, a rooster might produce a chicken sound like a scratchy crow, indicating possible respiratory issues.

Do Chickens Squawk Before They Lay Eggs?

While you may think a female chicken stops making sounds before laying an egg, it’s the contrary. Hens have been observed to make a variety of vocalizations before and even after yielding eggs.

Do you know what your chickens are saying? Share your experiences with distinctive chicken sounds in the comments! Also, if you have additional questions, feel free to ask!

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