I’m having so much fun traveling and sharing my new book, How to Speak Chicken. I can’t tell you how many emails, messages, and in-person requests that I have received to create recordings of the chickens’ vocalizations that I share and “translate in my book”. Chickens have their own language, and over the years I have been able to decipher what they are saying. I am excited to share with you my insight into some of the more common phrases. Yes, the vocalizations that you hear in the sound bits below are me. This is my “chicken voice” and how I “speak chicken” with my flock.
How Chickens Say Hello
This is the first sound that you hear from your flock when they come up to greet you. Listen for “buh-dup” when you are out in the coop. They will use it with you and one another. Think of it as a “Hey”, “What’s up?”, or “How are you doing?”.
Broody Hen Warning
This is the sound you will hear when a broody hen is on her nest and she warns you to stay away from her eggs. Sometimes a hen will peck at you too. Her eggs are her babies. The sound reminds me a bit of a dinosaur yell mixed with a bit of broody growling! “SCREE-oop-oop-oop” Take a listen to Storey and I.
This is a low growl that goes through the flock during the first sight of a potential predator. This is to let the flock know that something dangerous is potentially nearby. Most hens freeze and try to “see” what the perceived danger is.
After the growling followed by confirmation that the thread is indeed real, the growling is followed by loud and repetitive alert calls with lots of frantic calling out. This sound encourages the flock to seek safety or hide.
Egg on the Way (I Have to Lay an Egg)
Sometimes hens will announce that they are ready to lay an egg. Usually this is the call that a hen will do when her favorite nesting box is already occupied. I like to think of it as her saying to her flock mate, “Hurry up, I’ve got to lay an egg!”
Egg Song Vocalizations
Once a hen lays an egg, she will announce its arrival. “It’s here!” Sometimes she sings alone, or sometimes her flock mates join in to celebrate the egg’s arrival.
This recording happened during the middle of a snow storm. It was dark and cold as I went to lock the girls up for the night. The coop was so nice and warm. It was a refuge from the cold winter night. Little did I know, chickens say goodnight. Listen to them purr with contentment and say goodnight with breathy little “doh-doh-doh” as we all say goodnight after they have gone to roost.
I Have a Chicken Name, Do You?
Yes, I do indeed have a chicken name and I bet you have one too! My dear friend, Sy Montgomery, helped me to realize this. You can read the story of how my chickens named me here. Three flocks later, they have all taught one another my name, and it all started with Tilly.
For more on flock emotions, smarts, physiology and chicken psychology please check out my new book.