A Moment of Science

Chicken Language

Do chickens have a language? Find out what researchers think on this Moment of Science.

Do Chickens have a distinct language?

Researchers debate this, and it depends on how you define language. A series of studies done in Australia by Linda and Chris Evans suggest they do–at least a rudimentary form of language. Chickens, as you know, make a clucking sound. Researchers call it a “took.”

When a particular kind of “took” was recorded and played back, it caused chickens to examine the ground at their feet. When they altered the pitch of the “took,” the chickens didn’t look at the ground any more. Playing other sounds chickens make didn’t cause the ground-examining behavior either.

Researchers speculate that these chickens were looking for food. This particular “took” seems to be used to alert other chickens that food is present. Male chickens make this “took” around food, and do it much more when a female chicken comes near. The “took” seems to mean “Hey! Food here.”

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science