Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Dar, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. Dar

    Dar Crowing

    Jul 31, 2008
    I have often read about certain sounds that chickens make and the meaning behind for example...

    whats a happy cluck sound like?
    stay away?
    hey where is everyone?

    I have been finding that my girls are making more sounds lately and I am trying to learn chickenese...any suggestions?
  2. HorseFeathers

    HorseFeathers Frazzled

    Apr 2, 2008
    Southern Maine
    In my experience:

    Chicken adopts a garbled voice when she becomes lead hen
    "Gock gock gock gock" I got a bug
    High "brrrrr!" Mother hen saying "hide!" to chicks.
    Low "brrrr!" Mother saying everything's OK to chicks.
    "weeek,weeek, week wree week" I need to lay an egg, or get me outta this run
    "bawk bawk bawk BAGOCK!" I laid an egg
    Happy hen sound is unmistakeable- listen for it while they dust bathe
    "gock gock gock brrrrr" Broody hen telling you to get lost
    "Creeeeah" Also broody hen telling you to get lost

    I know more but don't have them off the top of my head.
  3. Dar

    Dar Crowing

    Jul 31, 2008
    thanks...I am going to try and record my gals and I will post it ..i have noticed that my RIR makes a diferent sound then the other gals but she is cranky all the time she is a biter she walked up to me the other day and just bit me for no reason I was sitting in my chair reading as the kids were in the pool
  4. mistylady

    mistylady Songster

    Jun 1, 2008
    Ohio near Coshocton
    I have one hen that after she sits and preens herself on my arm she snuggles up to my chest and flops over with her feet sticking out over my arm and clicks her beak open and shut. Its kinda cute! No noise other than the beak clicking.
  5. chickiebaby

    chickiebaby Songster

    Jan 2, 2008
    western mass
    Envirogirl, that dictionary - or chicktionary - is awesome. Several of those sound just right to me and I need to go listen for the others.
  6. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon

    Jan 27, 2007
    This is one of the main reasons, for me, that having chooks is interesting. The following is excerpted from N. Collia's, The Spectrographic Analysis of the Vocalizations of the Red Jungle Fowl. His research was conducted on the flocks that used to roam in the San Diego Zoo. One of our members is still breeding offspring of the dispersed flock (guess chooks didn't grab the crowd). The complete paper is available here: If it won't download completely, view it in HTML format, copy and paste ALL and reformat in a Word (or whatever) document. It is the seminal work on `ChookYap'.

    I found this as well when running down info on the intergradiation of signals and vocalizations that are flock specific. I know there is some learning going on, but research is somewhat scarce and I'm not about to start ablating ol' Roodawg's brain in order to observe the alteration in vocal signalling... ISAE in Edinburgh, Scotland.pdf

    The abstract is on page 90: Pre-dustbathing vocalizations of hens as an indicator of a "need" : The "'Gakeln" (I think it sounds like: `wrraaaakn' call is one we know well. There are a couple hens waiting to be `unleashed' for the evening ranging right now and they are complaining bitterly. Ours also use this call to let us know that they want the coop door opened NOW. They have plenty of opportunity to dustbath in the run, they are using the "Galkeln" to express another frustration... (better let `em out). Ours also growl (staring down each other /territory-tidbit priority; in unison ``predator approaching' - more than vague `uncertainty'. `Chortling' (lilting somewhat `songish') in unison only heard, over monitor, within 5 minutes of the start of rain (some `jungle memory'?).

    From Collias (first link):
    "1. Rising vs. falling pitch (chicks): Pleasure vs. distress
    2. Clear tones vs. white noise (hiss): Attract vs. repel
    3. Low vs. high pitched notes: Attract vs. repel
    4. Brief vs. long notes: Attract vs. repel
    5. Soft vs. loud notes: Attract vs. repel
    6. Slow to fast repetition rate of notes: Increased stimulus intensity
    7. Regular to irregular repetition of notes: Increased stimulus intensity
    8. Gradual or abrupt onset of call: Set to respond vs. startle
    9. Steady vs. wavering tones: Secure vs. disturbed
    10. Consistent vs. inconsistent number of notes: Stereotyped vs. flexibility

    "The essential function of antithesis in Darwin’s sense is to reduce ambiguity in signalling. This is especially clear for the first five pairs, inwhich the first member of each pair reflects what could be considered a positive or “pleasure” state in the signaler, the second member a negative or “unpleasant” state. Thus, rising vs. falling pitch in a chick call is associated with either a state of well-being (“pleasure”) or conversely with some objectively specified stressful condition (“distress”). Some objective, experimental evidence for the antithetical effects of Pairs 2 to 5 has been given for the responses of domestic chicks to systematic variations in stimuli (Collias and Joos 1953). These pairs are antithetical in that the first member of each pair tends to induce approach, while the second is more likely to stimulate avoidance by a chick."


    Calls can be identified to a considerable extent by the general situation in which they are given and by their sonograms. Because of the existence of graded signals and of intermediate stimulus situations it is not possible to specify any absolute limit to the size of the vocal repertoire. However, in practice, specific calls recur frequently and characteristically in certain situations, enabling one to give a rough but fairly accurate estimate of the size of the vocal repertoire.

    Based on the above criteria, I feel that I can recognize about 24 different calls given by the Red Junglefowl. Calls of chicks include: (1) distress cries, (2) pleasure notes, (3) fear trill, (4) pleasure trill, and (5) a fear note, which is a sharp cry given by a chick when it is abruptly seized. Guyomarc’h (1962, 1966) who has described variations in the calls of small chicks in some detail gives a sonogram of this last call (1962:294). Additional calls, given by adult Red Junglefowl, include: (6) clucking by hens, (7 and 8) food calls of two types, (9) purring, (10) courtship call (two parts) of cock given while wing-fluttering to hen, (11) contentment calls, (12) contact grunts, (13) singing, (14) whine or moan of disturbance or frustration, (15) alerting call, (16) startled squawk when pecked, (17) distress squawks when captured and held, (18) alarm cackling (two parts) to ground predator, (19) alarm scream to flying predator, (20) loud defensive threat to flying predator, (21) hiss by hen on nest, (22) protest growl by broody hen when disturbed, (23) threat calls of low intensity by cock or hen, and (24) crowing by the cock.

    In the domestic fowl, which has essentially the same vocal repertoire as the Red Junglefowl, Baeumer (1962) who has given the most comprehensive verbal account of the calls described 30 different calls, based on close observation over many years. Konishi (1963) who had access to Baeumer’s tape-recordings, made sonograms of many of these calls. In general, the calls recognized by Baeumer and by myself appear to be about the same. The probable reasons for the difference between his count of 30 and mine of 24 can often be specified: (a) he classifies as two signals (his 6 and 7) what I have called two parts of a compound call in the case of alarm cackling to a ground predator, the preliminary cut-cut notes and the loud kaah!; (b) what I have at times labeled the same call in different situations he apparently labels as different calls in the different situations: the distress cries of a hen when seized (Baeumer’s 10, BlO) and or when held (Bl 1); or the protest growl of a broody hen to avoid copulation (B13), to defend her nest (B14), and to defend her chicks (B16); or clucking by a hen when leading chicks (B18) and when brooding chicks (B19), admittedly variants of the same call; and (c) labeling different intensities of onecall as different calls, such as short (B25) or long (B26) threat notes of a hen. Baeumer recognizes different categories (B20, B21) of the alarm cry to a flying object, which Konishi (1963) has identified as different intensities of the same call especially as indicated by length of the call. I also suggesat n additional category( no. 20 on my list), the loud, relatively low-pitched defensive threat (“roar”) to a flying predator that is departing or is relatively nonthreatening. In general, as with “lumpers” and “splitters” in taxonomy, the decision whether to distinguish one or two similar calls that sometimes intergrade, can be rather arbitrary. The important thing is not the absolute size of the vocal repertoire that is estimated, but rather that the physical characteristics of each call and the situations under which it is given be accurately and adequately described so that the same call when described by different observers can be recognized as such."

    (sorry for long post, but this is the gist of the `interpreter's course for your reference)
    ed: link repair - formatting)
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011
    1 person likes this.
  7. debilorrah

    debilorrah The Great Guru of Yap

    Ok ,so what about one that purrs in her throat? All mine do that and they are all different breeds.
  8. mistylady

    mistylady Songster

    Jun 1, 2008
    Ohio near Coshocton
    I hear the same under-wording in every noise I hear from my chickens ....."feed me treats mommy ... treats please..." [​IMG]
  9. Jenski

    Jenski Songster

    Jun 17, 2008
    Middle Tennessee
    Ivan3, you completely rock. Thank you for providing the OCD folks in the forum with plenty of chewy goodness.

  10. jenniescholl

    jenniescholl In the Brooder

    Mar 11, 2008
    thanks for summing it up- I have 3 hens that do that "Bawk bawk bawk- Ba-KOCK!" thing and I know they're the ones that have started laying. Mainly because I spy on who's in the nest! But one hen is rather strange- or maybe not, depending on how you look at it- she does that sound but has not laid yet (any day now) and I have placed white golf balls in a couple of the nests to deter a few of my girls from laying floor eggs. (Yep- it's already happened) Anyhow, this one girl, a light Brahma, clucks like that while sitting on a golf ball. Wierd? What do you all think?

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