Facts about the animal kingdom

Why Do Roosters Crow in the Morning?

Jungla Luque
By Jungla Luque, Ethologist and dog trainer. Updated: March 21, 2024
Why Do Roosters Crow in the Morning?
Hens and roosters

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Since childhood we have been taught that roosters crow in the morning as the sun rises. However, if you have pet chickens, you must've noticed that your rooster crows might also crow in other times of the day.

In this AnimalWised article we will explain why roosters crow in the morning, as well as other times during the day. Keep reading to learn more about a rooster's crow.

You may also be interested in: Differences Between Rooster and Hen
  1. About roosters
  2. How roosters can crow
  3. Why roosters crow
  4. When roosters crow
  5. Do all the roosters crow?

About roosters

A rooster, also known as a cockerel or cock, are male chickens. They differenciate from female chickens, hens, on a number of aspects. Not only by their behavior but also their physical appearance. Adult roosters are easy to differentiate as they are larger than hens, have long tail feathers, have a larger wattle (two elongated, fleshy, thin lobes of skin that hang down from the lower side of a chicken's head) and

It is, however, more difficult to tell the gender of a chick. Read our article about knowing if a chick is male or female to learn more.The most known rooster behavior is their crow. Roosters begin crowing at around the age of 5 months. This is around the time they begin maturing in behavior and physical appearance.

If you have a pet rooster or hen, we encourage you to check out our list of the best pet chick names.

How roosters can crow

Roosters are known for their peculiar song described by the onomatopoeia “cock-a-doodle-doo”, with which they wake everyone up who sleeps peacefully in the morning. Have you ever wondered how it is possible that they produce this sound?

Roosters, like many other birds, base much of their communication on sound. This is why they have complex sounds to communicate with other birds and express their needs and attentions. They do this thanks to their vocal organ the syrinx and the muscles that surround it. This is the same organ that allows parrots to speak like humans.

A rooster's vocal anatomy differs to a human as they don't have a larynx, like us. Instead, they have their syrinx at the end of their trachea connecting it to the two bronchi where the air they breathe go through.

Why roosters crow

Now that you know how roosters are capable of emitting their characteristic call, surely you want to know with why they perform this behavior.

As you already know, only male chickens produce this sound. Hens don't emit this sound. This is a curious fact as castrated roosters don't produce this sound either. This behavior is therefore related to a male hormone that has two purposes: to attract females for mating and to challenge other rival rooster's territory. Roosters may also emit this sound as a warning if they have detected any threats in the environment.

Roosters aren't the only male birds to be territorial. This is a common behavior seen in other male birds and even other species. Many animals produce a particular sound or have a unique behavior to mark their territory and warn outsiders to stay away from their territory and family.

Lastly, it's important to note that roosters can emit other sounds like hens. This sound is often known as “cluck”. Chickens, both male and female, produce this sound when eating, to communicate with other chickens or to begin mating. To learn more about chicken mating, we encourage you to also read our article about chicken reproduction.

When roosters crow

Roosters actually crow all day long but they concentrate their singing at certain established times:

  • Dawn
  • Noon
  • Mid afternoon
  • The midnight

However, these birds are quite popularly known because they sing in the morning once the first rays of sunlight come out at dawn. So, why do roosters crow in the morning?

Roosters crow in the morning due to their biological clock. All birds sing in a daily cycle. When roosters crow at dawn, they are defending their territory. They're communicating that they are awake and alert, and that if anyone trespasses they will attack and defend their territory. This will stimulate other roosters to crow too, even if the first rooster anticipated sunrise thanks to their biological clock and crowed earlier than usual.

Many people believe that roosters crow because they see the sunrise. This hypothesis was debunked by a study done by the University of Nagoya in Japan. In this study, researchers tested these birds by exposing them day and night to artificial light, so that they could not distinguish between day and night hours. Surprisingly, despite the aforementioned circumstances, these roosters continued to crow shortly before sunrise.

This means that roosters indeed crow according to their biological clock, regardless of their environment. All animals have their own daily cycle of activity known as circadian rhythms that they roughly follow.

Many people also hear roosters crow at night and wonder why do roosters crow at night?

The answer is similar. It's due to their biological clock and the fact that predators may appear at night. Therefore, they want to warn the predators that they are alert and will attack them if they come near their territory.

Why Do Roosters Crow in the Morning? - When roosters crow

Do all the roosters crow?

Yes, all roosters crow. It's part of their natural behavior and cannot be completely repressed. Not all roosters crow with the same frequency or intensity. This is because the crow is an innate response to a certain context. However, as we've previously said, castrated roosters don't crow. In fact, castrated roosters look like fattened hens and will not mate with hens or protect them. It's not a good idea to castrate your rooster as it's painful, stressful and risks infection for your rooster.

It's also important to note that each rooster is unique. They will crow depending on their breed, personality and environment. Therefore, you may observe that your rooster crows in a different way from other roosters. It's perfectly normal to notice a variation in their crow.

When a rooster crows it demonstrates that they are healthy and live in an environment that make them feel calm and safe, that is to say:

  • They have their essential needs covered: food, water, social needs, rest, etc.
  • They do not perceive threats in their environment: predators, threats, etc.
  • They do not coexist with other roosters: therefore have no rivals to compete with.

When a rooster stops crowing, it may mean that they are ill. Learn more about detecting illness in your rooster or hen by reading our article on common chicken diseases.

If you want to read similar articles to Why Do Roosters Crow in the Morning?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

  • Lee, J. (2013). How a Rooster Knows to Crow at Dawn. National Geographic. URL link retrieved on 06/05/2020: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/3/130318-rooster-crow-circadian-clock-science/
  • Shimmura, T., & Yoshimura, T. (2013). Circadian clock determines the timing of rooster crowing. CurrentBiology, 23 (6), 231-233. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2013.02.015
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Why Do Roosters Crow in the Morning?