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Author Topic: Observations in Chicken Behavior  (Read 1237 times)


  • Joined May 2021
  • Ohio River Valley
Observations in Chicken Behavior
« on: July 30, 2021, 08:56:08 pm »
Most observations here mentioned occurred between March of 2020 and February of 2021.

As the pandemic gave me lots of time, as linguistics is my longest running hobby, and as I had chickens, I taught myself to speak chicken.

Here are the words I learned:
1. oopsie-daisy
4. Oooh what's that?/curiosity
5. ow ow ow oh I made an egg
6. oh dear me/confusion sound
7. something which expresses murderous rage, which would be best described as a cuss word
8. a sound made when the chicken is happy/calm/contented
9. annoyed/agitated sound

Sounds 3 and 7 are only made by roosters and are the sound of a rooster crowing, but the tone is different with the danger version sounding frantic and higher in pitch, while the angry one is louder and deeper at a measured pace.

Sound 1 is made most often when they unexpectedly bump into some object or another chicken. It's a short squeak of sorts.

Sound 2 is the one they make when you feed them or they find a nest of voles. It's also made when you toss them a mouse and they play chicken soccer with it.

Sound 4 is made when exploring or finding something new, or when inspecting a mirror which confuses them. It's a short cluck sound made sporadically while inspecting the new thing.

Sound 5 sounds like Bok bok bok bakaaaaa! and is mostly done when a hen is laying.

6 is similar to 4, but slightly hurried in tone and combined with pacing back and forth like they're working out some kind of major problem.

8 is a very quiet bokbokbok said rapidly unless they're falling asleep. I observed it most often when a hen had laid her egg already and had just eaten a large meal and was starting to doze off. However I also observed it when they were very drunk. More on drunk chickens in a bit.

9 is the sound made when they're all trying to get into the coop and the first chicken at the top sits down instead of going further in. The others get impatient and make this sound in their throats which sounds to me like exasperation.

They also convey distress and anxiety through body language.

I think Chickens are capable of empathy also because of a certain event. Trigger warning, it was a rough patch in my life. You will have to highlight the text below as I've set the color to white. When I was suicidal last October, the chickens displayed distressed body language and followed me around, when I hurt myself, they made the danger sound but didn't hide, meaning they weren't scared for themselves, they were worried about me, and kept making the danger sound and behaving distressed until I got help. When I returned from the hospital they followed me around for a while still acting like they were worried, but when satisfied that I was back to normal, they left me alone to go do chicken stuff. End of white text.

Chickens also enjoy alcohol and datura. The alcohol they got from buggy fruit we had falling out of a very tall pear tree. They would gorge themselves on the boozy-smelling fruit and then stagger around and bump into things, and sometimes they fell right over, got up, and staggered sideways before gaining their footing. They tended to aimlessly mill about doing nothing in particular and occasionally making sound 1.  It was extremely funny to watch. The datura was some that was growing wild in the pasture. They knew not to eat it, but they did ocaisionally nip little bits off the edges of the leaves and they acted like they were seeing things that I could not. I have no idea what they experienced from it. But I think they probably were hallucinating at least. The affected chickens would take care to go around areas where there was nothing to go around. I did occasionally give them beer I had sweetened with sugar just so I could watch them being little boozers again as it was good fun for them and me.

Roosters dance when they want to fall off. Sometimes the hens aren't up to it and will just utterly ignore them. The rooster sometimes got depressed if it happened 3 times or more in a row. His comb will actually droop and he will just wander off.

A hen saw me butcher her favorite rooster and thereafter was very sad. She also would not stay with the others and ate alone, and would not have the other roosters. I felt bad for her. She also avoided the area of the farm where I did the butchering. :'(

The chicken breed was Ginger Broilers. I don't know if I just got an odd batch or if this is how chickens always are, but this was a long strange trip.
Turn your problem into a solution. Learn new things. Adapt as you go. Plans should be fluid and subject to change. I start planning for things years in advance and by the time I do them they have usually changed radically.

"Fall down 7 times, stand up 8" ~Bodhidharma


  • Joined Mar 2017
  • Gower
Re: Observations in Chicken Behavior
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2021, 09:19:39 pm »
Thanks for this interesting post. Glad you're in a better place now.
Did you get any video of the different sounds and contexts? It would really help those of us keen to learn to speak chicken.


  • Joined May 2021
  • Ohio River Valley
Re: Observations in Chicken Behavior
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2021, 11:57:35 pm »
I didn't think of it at the time that I was doing it, and I no longer have chickens unfortunately. I'm going to Uni in the fall and for a while I was too sick to take care of livestock.
Turn your problem into a solution. Learn new things. Adapt as you go. Plans should be fluid and subject to change. I start planning for things years in advance and by the time I do them they have usually changed radically.

"Fall down 7 times, stand up 8" ~Bodhidharma


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