What's all that crowing about?

NATURAL WORLD

PAUL GAY
Last updated 11:32 23/07/2014
Rooster
SPEAK UP: Why do roosters crow?

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Why do roosters crow when they do? This question is still puzzling to scientists who have come to differing conclusions following experiments.

In one recent experiment in Japan a group of roosters were kept in a room and subjected to a cycle of 12 hours light and 12 hours of darkness. They were videoed and recorded constantly and it was established that after a time they began to crow two hours before the lights came on. This equates with what usually happens naturally.

Throughout history roosters are known to crow before dawn. They are said to have a circadian rhythm. This rhythm is activated by an internal biological clock which in the rooster is stimulated by daylight the previous day. Scientific experiments continue.

Roosters also crow for other reasons. For example this rooster, photographed right in the middle of a loud "cock-a-doodle-doo", was crowing just before night-fall and was responding to other roosters nearby. Shortly after he and the other roosters found a perch in a tree or on a fence and settled down for the night.

It's also recognised that roosters crow to claim their territory, especially if their hen is nesting nearby. They will crow and chase intruders away.

Thinking about it, it's not too unusual for roosters to crow just before dawn. Blackbirds, thrushes and magpies and the native tuis and bellbirds all join in to the dawn chorus.

So why do roosters crow when they do?

It seems that they crow when they need to. Any time, day or night with the early morning call being the most recognised. Maybe they act as an alarm clock for some of us.

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- The Southland Times

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