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Chicken Facts: A Roosters Crow

Roosters crow all the time. The connection with the sun coming up is a misconception.  They might, on occasion, crow right at dawn.  Foghorn starts his deep loud crow usually 30 minutes before the sun crests the horizon. However, roosters crow whenever they feel like it: morning, noon and night, not to mention afternoon, evening and the parts of the day that don’t have names.  Basically all the time, if they want.

Roosters crow because they hear other roosters crowing, to show that a certain place in the barnyard is their turf, to try and assert their authority over another rooster, or even to gloat when a hen cackles after laying an egg.  They will even crow to call the ladies back to the run, when they are out free ranging. I think the general rule for this is that a rooster crows any time it wants to – or feels the need.  If Foghorn crows, Houdini crows.  If Houdini crows, Foghorn crows.  You get the idea, there is lots of crowing going on in my yard.

The Silkie Roosters crow sporadically throughout the day, most likely because their breed is very docile.

Because I have three different breeds of roosters, I can attest to the fact that each roosters crow sounds different.

Foghorn is a Blue Maran rooster and he stands close to 3 feet tall, so he is a big guy and his crow is deep in pitch and tone and he carries the crow longer than the other guys.  He’s really loud!

Houdini who is a Phoenix Rooster which is a red jungle fowl stands a little over 18″ tall.  His crow is higher in pitch and cuts off at the end, almost like he can’t get the last part out.  We laughed at it when we first got him, but after I did some research I discovered this is a trait of his breed.

Al and the other Silkie rooster (I refuse to name him, he’s not my favorite) stand about 12′ tall.  Their crows are squeaky, but pretty strong for such pretty boys.

Chickens have three eyelids for each eye, the upper lid, the lower lid, and the nictitating membrane. During the day, when they are awake, chickens usually keep their upper and lower lids open, but they frequently blink the nictitating membrane closed momentarily.  It is a transparent lid that the chickens can see through, and it helps clean, moisten, and protect the eye.

When a rooster crows it closes or partly closes this third lid.  While I was snapping photos of Foghorn in the garden I caught the eye-lid in the act (top right photo).  A roosters third eye lid closes while he is crowing because he is vulnerable when his head is thrown back during the crow and his throat is exposed.

You know the picture of the rooster on the fence sending out his cock-a-doodle-doo to wake up the farmer?  Its actually true that roosters like to elevate themselves over the other hens and roosters.  They like the height because their first job is to protect their ‘ladies’ the hens, and if they are higher up it allows them to keep an eye on their flock.  Sending out the crow to send warnings and scare off predators.

All of my guys will find what ever they can to stand on, even if it is something as simple as a clump of dirt.  If it raises them above the rest, that is all that matters.  I think of the analogy of a king on his throne watching his subjects.

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18 comments on “Chicken Facts: A Roosters Crow”

  1. After the chicks hatch and their down has dried, examine the two rows of tiny feathers at the edge of the wings. The hens have primary feathers longer than covert feathers (the feathers are uneven lengths). Roosters have primary and covert feathers that are the same length (all the feathers are the same length).

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