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Why Do Roosters Crow at Night? Is it Normal?

rooster at night

Cock-a-doodle-do is an unmistakable sound that even those that have never encountered a rooster are familiar with. While we are used to the typical crack of dawn crowing that our beloved roosters are famous for, having them crowing in the middle of the night is a nuisance. So, is this normal behavior? And why do they do it?

Crowing in the middle of the night is not always normal behavior but it’s not always unusual either. There can be several reasons as to why a rooster may be crowing in this inconvenient time frame. It will undoubtedly make it difficult for you and your neighbors to sleep, so examining the reasoning is essential. Let’s dig in.

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Reason’s a Rooster Would Crow at Night

While the crack of dawn crow is a result of the rooster’s internal clock, crowing at night or at unusual times of day can be a result of stimuli from the outside world.

Perceived Threats

A rooster’s job is to protect his flock of hens, and he takes this job seriously. Crowing can help him alert his hens to any perceived threat the rooster has noticed. A lot of nocturnal predators will prey on chickens in the night and the rooster’s crow may indicate he’s spotted a predator and is sounding the alarm.

The rooster’s crow gives the hens the warning to seek shelter from the danger. It may not always be a lurking predator, but anything the rooster perceives as a threat could result in him sounding the alarm.

Lights

Roosters are sensitive to light and have an internal clock. There’s a chance they could mistake lights as impending dawn and could sound the early morning alarm a little sooner due to the mistake. Whether it be a car passing by or simply some outdoor lights, not all individuals are fooled by this but if they are constantly exposed to lights during the night, it could confuse them enough to result in nighttime crowing.

If you believe that lights could be a cause of nighttime crowing, it can be a simple fix. If they are your lights causing the ruckus, you can simply begin turning them out at night. If that isn’t possible, or if the lights are coming from another source, you can put blackout curtains up to prevent the light from getting in.

Approaching Dawn

Most chicken keepers fully expect their roosters to crow at the crack of dawn. After all, it’s completely normal behavior. Some roosters begin crowing up to 2 hours before sunrise. This can be inconvenient for those that wish to get a good night’s sleep.

Roosters are unique animals and as mentioned, run by an internal clock. A study published in the journal of Current Biology showed that roosters put under constant light conditions still crowed at the crack of dawn. That’s a powerful internal clock! Roosters crow at dawn as a signal to start their day defending their territory, protecting their flock, and foraging for food.

rooster crowing in the barn
Image Credit: Pixabay

Sound

Sound stimuli can sometimes result in a rooster’s crow. This is most likely because the rooster becomes startled by an unexpected sound and chooses to sound the alarm for his hens. It’s better safe than sorry and his hens are his responsibility.

The sound of another rooster in the night may also prompt a rooster to crow in the middle of the night. Roosters will sometimes get into crowing matches with other roosters to assert their dominance.

Individual

There’s a chance you may just have an individual rooster that is more vocal than some others and chooses to be vocal at an inopportune time in the night. He could simply be communicating with this flock.

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How to Prevent Crowing at Night

Roosters can and will crow whenever they please and nighttime crowing for exceptionally vocal individuals could pose a bit of a challenge. There are some steps you can take to prevent crowing at night.

Learning Your Rooster

First and foremost, you must get to know your rooster. Certain individuals may be triggered by different things. As mentioned, you may have a generally vocal rooster that likes to crow at random times. You may have predators around the property that go unnoticed by you but are easily noticed by your rooster. Getting to know their routines and behavior is important in deducting the reasons behind the nighttime crows. This will give you a better chance of successfully solving the problem.

old man and rooster
Image Credit: Pixabay

Decreasing Nighttime Stimuli

Since the rooster is set to protect his flock at night, reducing external stimuli at night is a must if you feel his nighttime crowing is a result of what’s going on around him. If your rooster is free-roaming at night, he’s at a much higher chance of running into external sources that would cause him to grow.

Keeping your rooster and his flock in a closed, darkened coop during the night will limit his exposure to external stimuli such as lights or noises and to any predators that may be lurking around in the night. Not only will a closed, darkened coop make him and the flock feel more secure at night, but it can also help ensure their safety.

Decrease Flock Size

Decreasing a rooster’s flock size may help reduce crowing at night since the crow is meant as a means for communication with this entire flock. The bigger the flock, the more they need for loud vocalization. Remember, he must ensure he keeps them safe, and the higher the numbers, the higher his responsibility.

rooster and chickens
Image Credit: Ingo Bartussek, Shutterstock

Ensure Needs Are Met

Your nighttime routine with your flock should include ensuring fresh food and water are available before you turn in for the night. This will prevent him from crowing out if he feels he and the flock need the necessities.

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Conclusion

Roosters are impressive creatures that take on the responsibility of an entire flock of hens. Crowing in the middle of the night can be very inconvenient for a chicken keeper and anyone that lives nearby. While the behavior may not be typical, it’s not necessarily abnormal either. Roosters can crow at any time of the day and night for a variety of reasons; knowing your individual will help you deduce its reason for the behavior and help you solve the nighttime nuisance.


Featured Image Credit: Anton_dios, Shutterstock

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