How to speak chicken

Every animal has its own way of communicating and if we pay attention, we can figure out what they’re telling us. Melissa Caughey went a step further. The Massachusetts chicken owner has learned how to speak chicken, and wrote a book about it. Caughey says for years, she would observe her chickens and repeat back what she was hearing from them.

"When they started coming up to me “saying things”, I would repeat it back to them and they would cock their heads side-to-side like a dog. And I thought to myself, wow, they’re actually trying to communicate, and that’s really how it started," explains Caughey. "I just kept trying to pay attention to what they were doing and watching their actions, and watching where they were trying to take me."

Studies have shown that all chickens have at least two-dozen different vocalizations that include greetings, alerts, and disputes. They also have different pitches. Some are sopranos, and others have more of an “alto” cluck quality. Caughey says after awhile, chicken-speak is easy to pick up on.

"Chickens will say hello, and they do this as people come and go, and as flock members come and go, and it’s “buh-dup!” In my chicken coop, there’s always one favorite nesting box, and the hens wait for that box to become available, and sometimes they’re quite frantic," she says. "And I think they’re saying to each other, get off the box! Get out of the box, hurry up are you done yet because I’ve got an egg on the way! And that one goes like bwah, bwah, bwah, bwah, bwah, bwah, bwah, bwah, bwah!"

One call in Caughey’s flock is very different from the rest. She realized that the chickens have given her their own special name when they see her, want a treat, or some cuddle time.

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