Chickens, like all animals, have a language unique to their species. Each sequence of sounds that they chirp, cluck and crow has a social, emotional or personal meaning. And if you spend enough time around these feathered friends you’ll begin, as I did, to hear the stories they are telling.
The rooster’s trumpeting call summoning his hens to dinner,
The rapid peeps of chicks as they search for their mother,
The oscillating clucks of a hen as she gives birth to an egg…
Of all the chicken calls I learned during the year I spent volunteering on different organic farms, I think it was the hen’s egg-laying song that shocked me the most. Somehow I had thought it would be a quiet process, that the hens would sneak away to their favorite hiding spot and peacefully begin their nest. While hens do try to find solitude, as the laying process begins, they also start to emit an unmistakable pattern of rapid and rolling clucks accentuated by a noticeably louder “Bwak!” at the end of each sequence. They sing this song with such intensity, wide-eyed and agitated, until the egg has finally been pushed out. It is enough to make anyone grateful that they weren’t born an egg-laying hen.