Hens squawk and cluck their way around the yard. Roosters crow and yell cock-a-doodle-doodle-doo at the break of dawn. But have you ever heard of a purring chicken? It may sound like a crazy cartoon, but some chickens purr in real life. Learn why chickens purr and the difference between a hen and a rooster purring.

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Why Do Chickens Purr?

Until chickens can talk, we won’t know for sure! However, bird experts speculate that purring signifies contentment or affection. Some chicken owners notice their bird purrs when they hold and pet them.

The official term for chickens purring is “trilling.” A chicken’s soft, low trill can signify happiness while in the arms of its owner. On the other hand, a high-pitched trill can convey distress. Some brooding hens will loudly trill if you approach their nests.

chicken laying eggs on nesting box
Image Credit By: Pexels, Pixabay

Why Do Chickens Make Noises?

A scientist from UCLA, Nicholas E. Collias, performed an in-depth study of red junglefowl and domestic fowl vocalizations. Collias identified 24 different noises that can signify different things in various situations during his work in the mid-1980s. Chickens and other birds make noises to attract mates, signal an alarm, express frustration, and ward off threats.

Do Chickens Like to Be Petted?

Some chickens love a good cuddle and back-scratching session. Other chickens prefer you to show your affection and appreciation by giving them lots of personal space. Chickens have differing space bubbles, just like we do. Don’t be offended or take it personally if your chicken doesn’t want a hug.

Chickens are more likely to enjoy physical affection if handled as baby chickens. Pullets and older hens may feel threatened if you try to pick them up or touch them. Food is always a good motivator if you want to coax an older chicken into letting you hold them.

man holding chicken
Image Credit: diignat, Shutterstock

Do Roosters Purr Too?

Roosters can purr just like hens, but often for different reasons. Male chickens can be real Romeos, and they will gently purr to attract hens. You might notice a rooster purring while engaging in a courtship behavior called “tidbitting.” The rooster will peck at the food on the ground, then call a hen over to share the meal.

Roosters are known to be aggressive, and they’re less likely to enjoy cuddle time. If you can hold a rooster, he may purr as a sign of comfort or contentedness.

Can Chickens Talk Like Parrots?

While it’s an entertaining thought, chickens cannot mimic human speech as parrots can. Scientists still don’t know precisely how parrots can talk. They think it might have to do with how a parrot’s brain learns vocalizations coupled with a desire to fit in with those around them.

Many bird experts agree that parrots don’t understand what they are saying. The birds are merely mimicking the sounds and inflections they hear.

Cream Legbar Chicken
Image Credit: Racheal Carpenter, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Felines are not the only animals that make a purr like sound. Your chicken or rooster may purr while you hold or pet them. Roosters will also purr as part of their courtship rituals. Not all chickens like you to hold them, but a hen or rooster has a greater chance of enjoying physical affection if you handle them as chicks.

Featured Image Credit: reijotelaranta, Pixabay