Cows and crops paid the bills on the farm, but over the years we dabbled with other interests. For a little while we raised a few pigs. For many years we had laying hens and, of course, a few colourful roosters. My favourite was the Rhode Island red. What a showboat he was! Aside from looking great, the rooster was a predictable morning alarm.
Chickens, like many other birds sing at sunrise, but it is mostly the males of the species who sing the loudest and most frequently. No one knows all of the reasons why birds sing, but some of their activity can be explained. We do know that birds sing to attract mates. They have used their song to mark territory from intruders, and to warn other members of the flock against these intruders. It is also used to re-establish communications with the flock after the night has passed. And, like people, not all birds wake up sounding great. Some species don’t sing very well when they first wake up, but they improve after a few hours practice.
Back to the rooster. According to Grandma, if the rooster crowed before going to bed, there was rain on the way. While that’s a very popular weather expression, scientists have never been able to say why. I know that we had a few roosters who crowed in the morning, but we also had a few who crowed whenever they liked, day or night.
According to experts, the idea that roosters crow only at dawn is a misconception. The reason roosters rarely crow at night is because they are diurnal animals that sleep at night. If the rooster does crow at night, any number of factors could be to blame. He could be sick, he may sense a predator, or he may just be feeling a bit antsy. Studies have proven that many animals can sense bad weather, and it’s possible that some roosters do crow if rain is on the way, but the correlation certainly isn’t as cut and dried as the myth suggests.
So, it’s safe to say that if the rooster goes crowing to bed, he is sensing a threat, but it’s not likely the threat of rain.
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Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.