I spent most of my life thinking roosters only crowed at dawn. I was wrong. I had not lived among roosters before moving to Ecuador. These roosters are truly free range. They and their hens live in the open, without fences or cages, in every village.
Roosters, hens and chicks run around the neighborhood like dogs and cats during the day. They return home each night to sleep.
In Ecuador, roosters crow at any time of the day or night. This curious habit made me wonder what makes roosters crow.
|Hey Mister Rooster – Why do you crow day and night?|
- Approaching dawn. Roosters may crow at the first sign of a brightening sky. (This is the only one I knew about previous to my Ecuador experience.)
- Bright lights. Roosters may confuse bright lights with dawn.
- Threats. Roosters will crow to warn their hens about perceived threats.
- Personality. Some roosters just like to crow. They crow when they feel like crowing.
Number three, in my opinion, explains most of the overnight crowing I hear. I suspect that they are warning their hens about dogs.
|Roosters and hens in an open yard
One rooster is walking back and forth in front – watching for threats?
Most dogs have an owner but are free to go anywhere they like. They return home to eat and sleep. They frequently have friends in the neighborhood and those dogs form packs. At night, they do not like other dogs to enter their territory.
In addition to the dogs who have owners, there are dogs who have no owner. These street dogs live off food scraps and baby animals to survive. Chaos erupts when a street dog searching for food enters the territory of neighborhood dogs. The pack chases the street dog away loudly.
The chaos caused by the dogs alarms the roosters. They begin crowing, causing other roosters to crow. In turn, more dogs bark. Pretty soon, the town is alive with a chain reaction of barking and crowing. This happens at any hour of the night.
Occasionally a chicken will go missing and neighbors search their yards, hoping their dog is not to blame. If it is, they owe the owner the value of the chicken. If the dog is a repeat offender, it may be forced to leave the neighborhood. I have walked around searching for a chicken with a neighbor. We found no trace of it.
Cats, chickens and roosters all seem to be friends. It is pretty common to see a group of roosters, chickens and cats together.
|Cats, chicken and rooster hanging on a street|
|Rooster and cats hanging in an open yard|
Perhaps it is their shared fear of dogs that keeps them united. The cats probably appreciate and heed warning crows provided by roosters.
Midnight Rooster and Dog Show
In Bahia de Caraquez, there live a rooster and dog who perform a nightly comedy show. When Scott and I are there, we stay up late just to hear this pair. Every night, the rooster crows. Seconds later, a dog howls an exact imitation of the crowing. The rooster responds; the dog responds. They go back and forth like that several times before there is a few minute pause. Then the rooster crows, the dog howls and we are treated to another round. Their neighboring animals must be used to them because no other dogs or roosters respond. It is one of the funniest things I have heard.
No Crowing at Dawn
One interesting note is that when dawn arrives, I hear songbirds, not roosters. I imagine the roosters are sleeping after a long night of protecting their hens.
When does your rooster crow?