Cock-a-doodle-do, is a universally known sound that just about everyone knows.
Roosters are loud and proud and like to let everyone know they are in the neighborhood! But seriously, why do they crow?
There are several reasons why a rooster may crow, and we will run through those here, but maybe a rooster crows just because he likes to!
This article will explain the various reasons why roosters crow, crowing etiquette, and much more.
Why Do Roosters 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 like “I’m the greatest.”
It 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.
This is another idea that has some merit.
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.
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 all, it is his yard!
The 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.
So there you have it, lots of thoughts on why roosters crow; some are proven, others are good, and some need further investigation.
The thread running through this article is communication. A rooster cannot sing like a bird, so the crow is his form of communication to a large audience.
Crowing sounds can be slightly different in the morning from the afternoon to and evening. He uses it as a tool to do many things. He announces the day, guards his territory, gathers the flock, and reacting to a threat.
Why do you think roosters crow? Let us know in the comments section below…
READ NEXT: How To Deal With A Loud Rooster
35 thoughts on “All You Need To Know About Rooster Crowing”
My backyard rooster crows whenever we return home or when someone pulls into the driveway. (He’s more of a watchdog than my bulldog.) He also crows and comes to the back door for a treat if he hears my voice inside.
That’s so sweet Cheryl 🙂
When my rooster wants a treat, he comes to the kitchen door and crows. I think he’s quite spoiled!
Normally I don’t mind our rooster’s crowing, but there are some mornings when I would like for Roger (the rooster) to just put a sock in it!! When the neighbour had a rooster (which mysteriously disappeared), the two would crow back and forth throughout the day…it was pretty humorous, but not to everyone’s liking I think and that might have lead to the neighbour rooster’s demise. As for loudness, I feel for the girls when Roger begins his crowing in the early morning while they are all still in the hen house (which is not very big)…it but be deafening!! Lastly, I have noticed that Roger is usually the first one out of the hen house in the AM (once the automatic door opens) and he seems to crow as if telling the girls to get a move on…and when they finally do, he puts the moves on them. Randy Roger.
Great article! Enjoyed it!
My chickens all go to the highest point, each night to roost and the rooster is always the last one to go up. Kind of like he’s supervising all the hens.
My little rooster crows if I walk away, around the house where he can’t see me. His little I-I-Looove-You usually gets a response from me, so he knows he isn’t alone. He likes companionship. I think he crows hoping to establish contact, just like a person starting up a conversation.
My crazy lil rooster sounds like one of those rubber chicken squeaky toys. Sooo annoying to hear his froggy voice for hours on end! Seriously… HOURS. He’s been at it for 7 hours so far, about every 2-3 minutes. That may explain his really raspy voice, now that I think about it. I sure hope he grows out of this annoying little feature. (He’s only 4 months old right now.) His lady companion doesn’t seem to like it, as I find her outside while he’s in the coop, crowing away.
He’s probably just practicing his voice! In a few months, it should sound like a normal crow.
I have a neighbor that has somewhere in the ballpark of 6 roosters and about 20 hens. He has one large coop that has one rooster and his ladies in it. Then each of the other roosters are in small pens with a lady of their own. I often wonder why he did this. They are all so noisy and it’s like the rooster in the bigger coop with more ladies is telling all the other guys about his harem. The other guys must be telling him they have quality, not quantity. You know how guys are! They never shut up. And every time one of them is screwing it gets worse. I like to hear a rooster crow but this is a little much.
Usually this set up is by those breeding specific breeds or qualities in their birds…
We’ve often checked when our rooster is crowing in the middle of the night and discovered that it was a rat disturbing him. We live next to a creek with many wild animals–raccoons, possums, skunks, otters, rats, so I’m sure he hears these as well when they are rummaging around the outside of the coop in the night.
We had a stray rooster show up in our front yard. He starts crowing at 4:30am. He roosts in our large magnolia tree…its higher than our single story house and half as wide. He gets way up there and jumps out in the morning to get a treat. He crows all day. He does take a break in the afternoon when he sleeps. My hubby says he can hear a far off rooster. I can’t hear it. We live in a suburban city.
My roo Blue, likes a nice lazy boy rocking neck scratch. Well we had tornado warnings today so after taking him out of the safety box I thought how about some cherries for u and ice cream for me on the lazy boy.. well he had his cherries and then took a grab at my ice cream.. I think he got brain freeze cuz he didnt want more but he crowed non stop on my lap for a good 5 minutes after it hit him. I gave the rest to the dog and put good blue with the chick haha.
I removed my rooster wattle yesterday and he didn’t crow this morning. Did I do anything wrong
You did exactly the correct thing. It’s what everyone should do. Enjoy the peace
Pamela Ackerman: You removed his “wattle”?? Please explain. I’ve never heard of this! Email me at AppyHorsey@windstream.net
You removed his wattles??? ACK!! Like…, injured him? Good lord he’s probably not crowing because hes in PAIN! 🙁
Maybe all the crowing made them easy to find by early humans and this is why we domesticated them instead of other birds
I’ve had predators attack my hens at dawn. Roosters awake just before dawn to alert predators of their presence.
I’m a predator and I eat chickens.
Rodents. Yes, I think that is why my Bantu is crowing at night lately. I found he is not only sharing his winter/night box and pen with the hens and ducks, a huge ground hog is invading his territory and he must hear him rummaging their grain and feed at night. I have seen it huge mounds in their pen lately. Thank goodness I thought even with all the other birds and adequate means of warmth he was telling me he was freezing since its 6 degrees tonight. I am hoping it is the pest disturbing him. I don’t want to bring him in to thaw out in the morning. Funny yet not as I have heard it’s possible and I wouldn’t want to be in need of thawing!!
Yeah they come to snuff the rooster.
Alice in chains.
Rusty (my little Bantam) didn’t crow for several months after we got him. I think once he found his voice, he just likes to hear himself. He’s the only rooster, do he’s slightly cocky!
“They aren’t as noisy as people think.” – I would disagree with this. I think it depends on the rooster (which of course, adds an unknown variable to things). I was house sitting for some friends and the rooster would crow quite loudly, quite frequently. I was very annoyed when I worked in the office, which seemed to receive the sound very well.
On the other hand, I’ve lived next to neighbors who have roosters and they haven’t seemed to crow as frequently or been annoying. So I think it depends!
Our rooster has just started to crow and thankfully, he usually crows around 8:30am. Must be a late sleeper haha. I find a rooster crow way less annoying than the neighborhood dogs barking at all hours of the night. We live in a very rural area, I hear other roosters, a donkey that sounds like he’s dying sometimes (cracks us up now but scared me to death the first time I heard it) we hear horses, sheep, goats, quail, etc. love them all! ?
I hear you about the dogs, I moved out of the city for some peace and quiet but it’s worse out here. I’d love to sit on my deck and enjoy the view but not a minute goes by without dogs barking.
We recently got a rooster, and this helped to know when my living alarm clock will go off, thanks!
Hello. It would be good to state the age in which they crow the most. I read it varies between 20 weeks and 3 years and then they are not as loud. After puberty I heard it’s supposed to be less…
I lived in an apartment complex that was a square with a “wild” area inside the square, every morning a rooster would crow there around 4 am. I wanted to kill it so bad, why would anyone keep a rooster in an apartment complex ?
I live in the heart of Waikiki, which is an urban concrete jungle. My condo is on 1he 12th floor. Well, a neighbor in a low rise apartment below recently got a rooster, and it crows repeatedly for about 15 minutes every morning at around 3am like clockwork. It’s a little irritating, but I’m kinda’ getting used to it now.
Some of the folks commenting here mentioned giving their roosters a “treat”. As a city boy, I’m curious, what do roosters like to snack on? Fruits? Veggies? Nuts? M&M’s perhaps? Chicken McNuggets? 😯😜
Mine get fruit, veggies, table scraps and I pull dandelions from the yard. We have grapes and pear trees so they get those as well. I raise meal worms, and we have a dumping area in the woods where we put bird seed from my bird aviaries, where I raise parrots, and the Black Flies have thousands of larvae that we dig up and feed them. Mine all all in an enclosed area, predator free with nesting boxes, so they don’t have access to the natural food they would normally get. But, I don’t have to worry about losing them to the other wild life either.
I Love hearing my roosters. In fact I call it communication 😀. I have a total of five and yes each one crows differently and very much know their rank in what they do and how they do it. You may not believe me but one of my bantam roosters talk to me. He must be part Parrot? No joke, if I knew how to record us talking I’d do that so you could hear him. His name is Pencil (all my chickens have names) and he says “Whatcha doing, I love you, I don’t want to and How are You? It is hilarious.
I buy 11 chicks, now they’re young and one of them i identified is the rooster because he’s starting to sing very weird. But now, my husband notice that we have 5 roosters. He said that we have to give 4 to someone because they’re going to kill each other. It’s that’s true? BTW, he sing in the morning and in the evening too.
Our Rooster seems to have stopped making any noise at all. He seems to be OK otherwise. Eating and drinking as normal. He’s OK, just silent. We wondered if it’s normal for him to be quiet at this time of year. He’s about 7 months old. Would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you