Why Do Roosters Crow in the Morning?

I threw my alarm clock away years ago, after all, who needs one when you have a rooster crowing at the crack of dawn every morning?

It’s almost uncanny how they wait quietly all night, only to unleash their deafening crows as the sun starts to rise.

so why do roosters crow in the morning ? Like many other birds, roosters crow in the morning to announce to the world that they survived the night.

By screaming at the top of their voices, roosters let potential rivals and predators know that they’re still around, protecting their flock, and guarding their territory.

How do Roosters know when it’s Time to Start Crowing in The Morning?

For a long time, scientists believed that roosters crowed in response to external stimuli. As the sun rises and the morning light illuminates the Earth, so roosters realize that dawn’s arrived and respond by making as much noise as physically possible.

While this explanation makes a lot of sense, more recent research shows that roosters will crow at roughly the same time of day regardless of external stimuli.

A study conducted by researchers at Nagoya University in Japan found that the rooster’s early morning song is driven by a circadian rhythm. That means they’ll crow a couple of hours before dawn regardless of whether they can see the sunrise.

To verify their findings, the researchers conducted two experiments. In the first one, the roosters were exposed to 12 hours of dim light, followed by 12 hours of light. Predictably, they’d start crowing exactly two hours before the onset of light. The researchers refer to this as “anticipatory pre-dawn crowing” – a behavior also observed in wild red jungle fowl.

In the second experiment, the roosters were kept in dim light conditions 24/7 for 14 days. Despite the lack of external stimuli, the roosters quickly adopted a “23.8-hour day and would crow when they thought it was dawn.”

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Even though the rooster’s internal clock is responsible for his morning crows, researchers found that he’ll also respond to external stimuli and will “vocalize more in response to light and sound in the mornings than during other times of day.”

rooster crowing in the mid of the day

The Most Dominant Rooster Gets to Crow First

Chickens are social birds who rely on a strict pecking order to coexist peacefully. The flock’s dominance hierarchy dictates who gets the best grubs, the best perch, and the freshest water. Interestingly enough, it also determines who gets to crow first.

If several flocks or groups of chickens live close enough that their territories overlap, it will be the top-ranking rooster who decides when it’s time to start crowing each day.

Once he announces the arrival of dawn, the roosters further down the hierarchy are allowed to join in.

Not only does the top-ranking rooster get to crow first, but he also gets to crow for longer and his presence may even suppress predawn crowing in his subordinates.

What Makes a Rooster Crow During the Day?

When your rooster starts crowing a couple of hours before dawn, it sounds ear-shatteringly loud, probably because the rest of the world is still sleeping. We don’t necessarily notice his daytime pronouncements to the same degree because there’s so much more background noise going on. Nevertheless, roosters do crow throughout the day, regardless of whether or not you notice it, and they crow for several different reasons.

#1 To Make Others Aware of their Presence

Although roosters have a reputation for being aggressive, they’ll do everything in their power to avoid a conflict, probably because such a conflict could end in death.

Rather than launching themselves at a potential rival, they crow to let them know that they’re there and are ready to fight if necessary.

If you have more than one rooster on your property, the constant back-and-forth crowing between roosters can get pretty noisy and annoying, but for the roosters, it’s the best way of letting each other know where their territories are and to warn one another that trespassing will end in conflict.

#2 To Celebrate a Successful Mating

Studies show some correlation between a rooster’s testosterone and his desire to crow, so it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that many roosters crow after they’ve successfully mated with a hen. It may not be particularly polite to shout about such intimate interactions, but the chickens don’t seem to mind!

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#3 To Warn their Hens of Danger

If a rooster becomes aware of a potential predator or other danger nearby, he’ll crow to warn his hens and encourage them to gather around him so he can protect them. It may not even be a predator in the vicinity, but simply a loud noise or a bright light that encourages him to burst out into song!

How Loud is a Rooster’s Crow?

If you own a rooster, you’ll know just how deafening a rooster’s crow can be, but you probably don’t know how loud it is in decibels. I thought it would be loud but I certainly didn’t expect it to be louder than a chainsaw, but it turns out that it is!

Researchers attached recording devices to rooster’s heads to find out exactly how loud their crows are, and the results were quite alarming! At point-blank range, a rooster’s crow averages around 130 decibels which is the equivalent of a jet plane taking off or a gun being fired at close range.

The loudest crow recorded reached an astonishing 142 decibels which researchers established was the equivalent of “standing in the middle of an active aircraft carrier.” 

The level of noise is enough to deafen a person and would cause hearing loss in a rooster if he didn’t have a special adaptation to prevent it. When the rooster opens his beak to crow, his ear canal partly closes and soft tissue covers a significant portion of the eardrum, preventing him from hearing his crow at full strength.

The volume of the rooster’s crow means it can travel up to half a mile away – far enough to alert any other roosters in the area of that individual’s presence and the location of his territory. Roosters maximize this by perching on a fence post or similar vantage point which helps their vocalizations travel even further.

Can You Stop a Rooster from Crowing?

You can change certain things in your rooster’s environment to reduce the amount he crows, but it’s virtually impossible to stop him altogether without the use of surgery.

The easiest way to get your rooster to crow less is to just have one rooster on your property, that way you’ll eliminate the back-and-forth territorial disputes.

You could also try separating your rooster from the flock, so he stops calling out to the hens to alert them to danger. Of course, this could put your hens in jeopardy and prevent the rooster from performing his natural duties.

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Nevertheless, if you really can’t hack the constant crowing, isolating your rooster could bring you a bit of peace and quiet, and if you want to breed, you can always pop him in with a hen or two temporarily.

If you’re really desperate, you could contemplate having him castrated. As testosterone simulates the rooster’s desire to crow, surgical castration can quieten him down significantly, but it will also render him useless for breeding. Although surgical castration, or caponization, is still legal in the US, it’s highly controversial and veterinarians may refuse to perform the procedure.

Another way to silence your rooster is to have him surgically decrowed but this procedure can be painful for the rooster and isn’t always successful. The operation is also expensive and potentially dangerous, so not widely recommended.

A less painful and much cheaper approach would be to invest in a no-crow collar which, when properly fitted, can significantly reduce the volume of your rooster’s crows, but not the frequency!


What Triggers a Rooster to Crow?

When a rooster crows first thing in the morning, it’s because his internal clock, or circadian rhythm, tells him to. During the day or night, external stimuli like bright lights or loud noises make stimulate him into crowing, while the presence of a potential rival or predator can also cause him to burst into song.

How Long Do Roosters Crow For?

When they first start crowing, some younger roosters will keep crowing all day and even into the night, but as they mature, they tend to calm down and limit their crowing to first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

Why Do Roosters Crow at Night?

The main reason roosters crow at night is because something has startled or alarmed them and they want to warn their hens that there’s a potential danger in their midst. Unfortunately, silly things like household noises, a loud action movie, or car headlights could agitate your rooster, causing him to crow on well into the night.

Parting Thoughts

Roosters have an internal clock that tells them to announce their presence to the world every morning, just before dawn. During the day, and night, they crow for other reasons, but in the mornings, it’s generally to tell the world that they survived the night and are still guarding their territory and their flock.

Although some people find rooster’s crowing to be annoying, after 15 years as a chicken owner, I’m fairly impervious to it. When I do hear it, I’m largely appreciative because it means my rooster’s doing his job, protecting his flock and warning them of potential dangers.

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