Chicken Noises: How to Understand What They Mean

Chicken Noises- How to Understand What They Mean

Did you know that chickens can produce over 24 distinct sounds/calls?

If you answered yes – you are right, but do you know what each of them means?

Research has shown us that they talk about a lot of things – from food to danger.

They can combine these noises to make even more ‘dialog’ and tailor the dialog to the chicken they are talking to, as humans do.

This article will talk about the most common chicken sounds you will hear from your flock and what each of them means.

Chicken Noises: The Egg Song

chicken noises

Of all the vocalizations of the chicken world, I think everyone knows this one!

The happy cackling of hens following the ‘laying of the egg’ ceremony is quite unmistakable. The hen that laid the egg leads off, with her sisters joining in for the chorus.

This can go on for extended periods, especially if several of the ladies happen to be lying around the same time.

A slight variation on the egg song can be heard when the favorite nest box is taken. The hen that is waiting for ‘her’ nest box will start to do an urgent egg song rendition.

The song takes on an edge – as if she is trying to get the other hen to move to another box. T

his rarely works; the only hen I ever saw take notice of this was a young pullet, and she fled the nest, giving up to the complainant!

Chicken Noises: Coop Chatter

chicken noises

I always greet my ladies with a ‘good morning’ when I open up the coop. Several of them will answer me back with the chicken equivalent of a greeting.

If I’m late in opening the coop, they will scold me in no uncertain terms, accusing me of lying in bed wasting the day!

When putting them in for the night, I sometimes listen to the coop chatter as they settle down for the night; murmuring, trills, and contented sounds abound.

Ladder Chicken Roosting Perch

Chicken Noises: Broody Hens and Grumbles

chicken noises

A broody hen is unmistakable. She has laid her eggs and is now sitting, waiting for them to hatch.

If you disturb her on the nest, or a flock-mate gets too close, she will growl.

Yes, chickens can growl! This is the warning to stay away from her, her hormones are raging, and she wants to be a Mama.

If you don’t heed the warning, you are liable to get a hefty peck or several until you leave.

Some broodies will scream at you, rather like a tantrum or hissy fit. This, combined with the fluffed up and evil look, is designed to keep you away!

Broodies do get off the nest about once a day, usually. During this time, she will be fluffed up, bad-tempered, and clucking urgently and constantly.

I think this is her way of saying everyone out of my way – I have to get back to the nest.

If you stop and watch her, all the other hens will move out of her way and give her plenty of space.

Whatever she is actually saying, it seems to work very well to warn the other hens.

Chicken Noises: Content Murmurs

chicken noises

When you see a flock of chickens moving across the yard, you will usually hear a low murmuring sound.

This murmuring has been likened to contentment; it is also one way that the flock keeps safe.

Hens will generally range within earshot of each other, they can hear each other, and if anyone sounds the alarm, they know instantly where the alarm came from.

Some hens (and roosters, too) enjoy lap time with their keepers; here’s especially content one.

Chicken Noises: Alarm or Danger Sounds

chicken noises

Chickens have a very sophisticated range of alarms for danger. There are distinct calls for aerial predators and ground predators.

If your flock starts to make urgent cackling and appears to be agitated – investigate! Although you may not be able to detect the danger, you can be sure something upset them.

The appearance of a human will usually deter most predators from having chicken for lunch.

Chicken Noises: Mother and Chick

chicken noises

The talking between a mother hen and her chicks starts before they are even born! She will cluck and purr softly while sitting on the eggs or moving them around under her.

This early talking enables the chick to pick out its mother’s voice from a group of chickens together.

Towards the final hours of the hatch, you can hear them talking back to their Mama. In this way, she encourages them to break out of the shell and reassurance that they are safe.

It has also been proven that Mother hens can modify their teaching of the chicks based on their understanding and aptitude.

If the chick is a slow learner, Mama will slow down the speed of the lessons until the chick understands.

If you have ever had chicks that got separated from Mama, you instantly recognize the frantic peeping of “I’m lost, where’s Mama?”. The Mother will rush to the chicks’ aid and bring it back to the safety of the nest.

Researchers believe that this shows empathy, something that chickens have in common with humans and primates.

If Mama senses danger, she will emit a soft ‘grrrrrrr’ sound. The chicks will either freeze in position or run to Mama for protection. She can also use a soft, low-pitched clucking to warn her chicks to be still.

If you have raised chicks without a Mama, you will need to listen carefully to the sounds they make – they can tell you a lot.

Soft peeps and trills are contented sounds. They are happy with life. If you hear high-pitched insistent peeps, something is wrong. Perhaps the brooder is too hot/cold, food has run out, or no water is available.

Pay attention to what they are telling you, and you will have happy and healthy chicks.

You will hear a startled peep/squawk now and then – usually, someone has been pecked, or something surprised them.

You will hear this sound from adult birds’ too – almost like ‘what was that?’

Chicken Noises: Food Calls

chicken noises

A mother calling her chicks to food uses a series of ‘tuk, tuk, tukking’ noises similar to a rooster. This alerts the chick to a tasty morsel. To encourage eating it, she will pick it up and drop it a few times until the chick gets the idea.

Adult hens too use the ‘tuk, Tuk noises to denote pleasure associated with food. It is generally reserved for special items such as treats.

Chicken Noises: The Quiet Chicken

chicken noises

There really is no such thing!

Although some birds may not be as vocal as others, they all ‘talk.’ The shyer birds will not talk as much as those higher up the pecking order, but if you make an effort to spend some time with them, they usually do talk.

If one of your chatty birds is not talking, somethings not right. Check her over to make sure she’s ok. Keep an eye on her just in case – perhaps she’s just having an ‘off day.’

Chickens can get depressed, but it is usually over an event in her life. Maybe she had to be isolated for a while – as a social creature, this is traumatic for her.

This is why I don’t separate a hen from the flock unless it is necessary.

Another event that can lead to depression or withdrawal is a death of a favorite flock-mate.

Some hens do form strong bonds with others, and death can lead to isolation.

Although they may not vocalize ‘depression’ as such, you will notice from their behaviors and subdued vocal responses that something is wrong.

Summary on Chicken Noises

There are still those who say chickens don’t have language and that people are guilty of anthropomorphism.

Everyone is allowed their point of view, but increasingly science shows just how wrong our assumptions have been about animals and birds and their ability to communicate.

Allow yourself to sit and spend time with your birds. Watch their interactions, listen to their conversations; you will be amazed at what you learn!

If you haven’t already, you will hear that different birds have different vocalizations, and you can pick out individual hens from the crowd.

Let us know the noises your chickens make in the comments section below…

READ NEXT: The Quietest Chicken Breeds For Every Purpose

Chicken Noises

40 thoughts on “Chicken Noises: How to Understand What They Mean

  1. Hi sorry this isn’t to do with your latest blog but I’m worried about one of my chickens she has lost quite a lot of feathers on her back, she dosent seem unwell as still laying and eating and the other girls haven’t lost any

  2. This was a very interesting article and want to share with you something’s my girls do. I have one that sounds like she is laughing. It sounds like she is saying “ ha ha ha ha ha “. I have another that cops like a baby. If I do it to her she does it back. I love to sit and listen to them.

  3. Loved this article! I can’t find many that talk about chicken vocalizations. I have one chicken that I feel so bad for because when I go to the coop to make sure they are accounted for there is always this one hen that sits all by her self at the opposite end of the roost. All the other hens are at the other end snuggled in with omlet my rooster. I’m sure she is at the bottom of the pecking order but she seems to be a loner ?

  4. Loved the article on chicken noises.
    I have three chooks and when I clean their coop there is always one watching me and chatting to me. She sounds happy that I am cleaning up the coop. She is probably also telling me that I missed a spot.
    Karen

  5. Hi, We have three laying hens and one white Silkie who sadly is the bottom of the pecking order although generally the bossy black one and one of the red hens peck at her she seems ok. They was all purchased at a chook farm together and my granddaughter fell in love with Stuffing as she named the Silkie ( re: looking like the stuffing that comes out of the soft toys the dog ripped up). We were not aware of different breeds not the best together. However, little Stuffing has laid a few eggs and was broody.
    We left her in a separate pen, large enough within the main run until she finally got the message no eggs, no chicks. She is laying again. My question is she talks all the time, a loud but not threatened rich loud ‘Brrrrrrrt’ sound and wonder what she is saying? She does not seem distressed but her talking most of the time must indicate something. They all love human company.

    1. That’s a warning sound to her chicks. Even though she doesn’t have any, many Silkies are super extremely broody and will sit on nothing for months at a time if you don’t stop them. I have to move mine around day after day and pick them up and put them out of the coop endless times a day until they shake it off.
      My hens lay about 8 eggs and then set. Repeatedly even during the winter. And if they don’t get to raise a few every now and then they kinda lose it and go into imaginary chicks land.
      Not all my hens do this just a few. All Silkies. Your hen is growling at you to let her be and raise some babies.
      Many times I let them hatch 2eggs, I put 4 under one hen and if all 4 hatch I give 2 to another hen ( it doesn’t matter if They started setting yesterday or three weeks ago put the babies underneath them and they will always take them, Always) this pacifies them and I don’t get overrun. The majority are roosters. 🙁 I have just given them one chick apiece too and they’re ok with it. As long as they have one. (It’s like…Omg!)
      Lol
      The chicks start hanging out together in their “teenage stage” so they get socialized just fine.

    2. One of my hens sneaks indoors at every opportunity and thinks of me as a fellow chook. If she hears me cough, she trills – even if she’s asleep. I suspect it’s a form of ‘are you okay?’ – ‘yes, I’m okay’ response.

  6. They definitely do have different words, or series of words, and they are so different. They are all different. I have one girl, who is very vocal.
    I just love when the girls sing to me… soft and cute cooing.

  7. I definitely agree that chickens have lots of different sounds. One of our hens doesn’t “cackle” like the other hens at all. In fact, she doesn’t even sound like a chicken at all, she sounds like a goose! I love our chickies and would never eat them. It is so relaxing to watch them!

      1. I am fairly new chicken owner. I have one that is not eating or drinking well. She poops all liquid. Mostly black with a little yellow. Then sometimes it’s clear/cloudy white with what looks like broken yolk. She opens her mouth sometimes but no noise. Looks like a silent scream. Her comb has shrunk and is dry and paler looking. Took her inside for a couple days to monitor her better. Even gave her epsom salt bath. Any ideas? Please. Don’t want her to be in pain.

        1. Hi! I have hens and geese and while my hens have never had any problems like this, my geese sure have! Your hen might have problems with worms (hence the diarrhea) their poop is supposed to be more solidified than that… however i’m not sure about the “silent scream” part… my hens combs often pale out when they get older or when they’re stressed (when my Dominique hen broke her leg her comb paled considerably because she had to be separated which is pretty stressful for them. ) i would definitely take her to a vet and see what you can start giving her!

  8. I have not had a rooster for several year now, as I did not replace him when he died. Recently one of my hens started crowing in the mornings like a rooster. Is this unusual?

  9. I’ve recognized pretty much all of these, except for chick-related ones, considering my girls never managed to successfully hatch a chick (I adopt new chicks every now and then and introduce them to the rest when they’re old enough.) However I have a question about one of my newer adopted chickens. My rooster makes a sound that’s a combo of gurgling and screaming. He normally does this when one of the ladies hop down from a high place or when he senses a threat. Plus, whenever I hold him he makes these short soft whisper clucks, when he’s relaxed. I don’t really have a question about my boy Blacksmith, but I’m concerned about my young silckie, Rainbow. Tonight, I was putting her away when she started makes this noise I had never heard before in my ten years of having chickens. It was like she was trying to mimic a high-pitched frog. A combo of both of Blacksmith’s clucks I described above. I have no idea what this sound means and want to figure it out soon in case it’s some sort of critical sign of something.

  10. I learned the hard way about the growling chicken. i named her red bc she is a rhode island red and the is almost a blood red color. i went to get eggs and she growled at me, so i pulled my phone out to get a video of how far i could go! i pet her tail feathers and she just growled, then her lower back, but when i went toward the wing she pecked me!!! i laughed so hard!!! i still have a pink spot from it and it’s been a month and a half!!! she followed me all the way to my house bc i pulled all 9 eggs out from under her!!! i currently have 38 chickens. 15 full grown, 5 mid grown and 18 chicks, I’m hoping someone will be a rooster bc i’m done buying chickens. mom won’t let me get more!!!

  11. how soon can you tell if a chicken is a rooster? i just got chicks and i’m hoping for a bantam rooster, a silkie rooster and a lavender rooster. There is also the chance of my dixies being roosters!!
    I am 16 and already addicted to chickens!!!!

  12. Our favorite sound is when one finds a little tasty morsel, give a little taunt, and then the ‘Chicken Rugby’ game starts.

  13. Hello
    My chicken is continously making sound as she laying a egg from two weeks bt she didnt laying. What does it means

  14. Is there any way to listen and download the diffrent sounds chicken make? I`m in a team organising an exhibition about chickens and we would like to show the visitors the sound and the meaning of it.

    1. At this time we do not have videos for you but youtube would be a great source to use for this purpose.
      Claire

  15. Hello happy chicken! This morning my silkie hen is making a very distressing sound. She also seems as though she can’t see properly all of a sudden. She is calling out (very loudly) and wanting to come inside – she is just going around in circles – running in to things. She started laying for the first time 3 days ago – didn’t lay yesterday but often running up to the coop. I am unsure of this new behaviour – it’s quite concerning. I only have the 3 silkies. Any thoughts on this bit of information. Cheers

  16. Hi, this is a great article. I have a question about my chicken, Molly. She is a blue Orpington and she has started laying down a lot and making a “cooing” sound… is this a normal sound or is she unwell. She was egg bound a couple of weeks ago.

  17. I have four buff orps. Sweet girls and love for my to feed them treats off our deck . No matter where they are they hear my back door open and run to the same spot and wait for me to toss them food. Lately I feel like they are following me around the house from outside ! Is it possible?! If I’m in the kitchen , they are near it. When I walk to the back bathroom they will start talking below my bathroom window . On Saturday mornings, if their coop door was left open on Friday night , they will start up right outside our bedroom window! Not a problem , I find it sweet . Just curious if anyone else feels stalked at times ?

  18. My rooster and three hens were attacked by a coyote or wild dog, it killed one of them, the other two are hurt, one more than the other and I had to separate it. Today the rooster has been making a different noise, soft, it sound like he was sad, the hen that died was his pal… he did this noise several times during the day… it made me feel sad…. what can I do to make him feel better?

  19. I didn’t get the information i wanted from this but it was pretty good i like it.So i have three chickens,and my rooster,so when he eats then a while later then he starts to put his head up while eating and showing his mane kinda he does this everyday acually i only saw for two day i dont know what it means.

  20. Also everyday early in the morning the chickens r right in front of my windo and one day Stacy our yuonger hen,she looked at me weirdly and just jumped up my windo!I got such a jump scare,but she don’t do it anymore so yay me:)

  21. I have 12 hens that are all 8 weeks old. 5 Cinnamon Queens and 7 Barred Rocks. They are all content, spoiled & “chatty”. Do they ever really come to a point where their vocalizations change to sound like a flock of adult hens? To me, their noises still sound identical to the peeping they did as brand new chicks…I guess I imagined their voices and noises would “grow” and change with age

  22. Okay, so I have about 8 one month old chicks living together, and one of them has this circular slightly red colored mole right beside it’s nose. Kindly enlighten me on what that’s all about.

  23. Hi I have a silkie that has always struggled with her vision and she can get the hang of it it just takes her a little bit longer. She is about 6-7 months old right now and they have a pasture-coop setting and sometimes when I come out to the pasture the chickens greet me, but my silkie makes a loud caw and I can’t seem to find why she does that? Any ideas?

  24. My gold Silkie cockerel, Gloria ( it’s the head feathers!) joins in with the girls when they’re announcing someone has laid an egg. He can’t make the ‘puck puck puck’ part of the chorus but he adds ‘b- dark’ at the end. It’s hilarious. Do cockerels usually join in?

  25. Hello,
    I love listening to the chickens chatter. For security reasons when I first began raising chickens, I put a baby monitor in the barn and had the speaker in the house. It was wonderful, and I was amazed at the different sounds. I too, have a chicken that cries like a baby, and it turns out to be my largest chicken, a barred rock. I also have one that whinnies like a horse, but never traced it to the correct chicken.

    While I am indoors, especially in the rain, it is comforting to know that I can keep track of all that is going on. I have Muscovy ducks and peacocks, also, but nothing so wonderful as the music of chickens wafting through the house. I can shut it off, or turn it down, or up to listen more intently. If you have the ability to use a baby monitor, I highly recommend it. I did the same with the horses in the stalls, and it was a wonderful way to keep track of what was going on, along with being entertained.

    Thank you for the wonderful article.
    Brenda

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