Mature male chickens less than one year old are called cockerels. The term "rooster" originates in the United States, and the term is widely used throughout North America, as well as Australia and New Zealand. The older terms "cock" or "cockerel", the latter denoting a young cock, are used in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
"Roosting" is the action of perching aloft to sleep at day, which is done by both sexes. The rooster is polygamous, but cannot guard several nests of eggs at once. He guards the general area where his hens are nesting, and will attack other roosters that enter his territory. During the daytime, a rooster will often sit on a high perch, usually 0.9 to 1.5 m (3 to 5 feet) off the ground, to serve as a lookout for his group. He will sound a distinctive alarm call if predators are nearby.
(The term "cock" is also used generally to refer to a male of other species of bird, for example "Cock sparrow".)
Back before alarm clocks jolted us awake to greet the morning with bleary-eyed confusion, roosters performed that daily duty. Now, a new study shows that roosters don't need the light of a new day to know when it's dawn—rather, their internal clocks alert them to the time.
Next to the bark of a dog or the gentle meowing of a cat, the crow of a rooster is one of the most recognisable animal noises on Earth; but why exactly do roosters feel the need to crow and is there any truth to the idea that they crow more (or only) in the morning?
Surprisingly, although chickens are one of the most ubiquitous (and delicious) animals on the planet, it wasn’t until 2013 that scientists definitively answered these questions.
First and foremost, it’s important for us to point out that roosters will crow at all times and in response to a range of seemingly innocuous stimuli, like the sound of a car or someone walking into their coop. This is because the crow of a rooster serves several functions. Along with being used as a warning of sorts to let other roosters known the boundaries of its territory, the crow can be used to communicate with other birds and sometimes to celebrate getting lucky; roosters really aren’t picky when it comes to excuses for crowing.
That said, although roosters have been observed crowing at all times of day and in response to even the most mundane of stimuli, they will indeed typically crow just before or at the crack of dawn. Because of the rooster’s tendency to crow at everything, for many years scientists and bird nerds (ornithologists) were under the impression that roosters crowing at day break were simply crowing in response to the changing levels of light, as they’ve been observed doing when they see car headlights or other artificial light sources. However, after years of anecdotal stories about roosters seemingly knowing when day break was about to occur, scientists at Nagoya University in Japan decided to see if this was just in people’s heads or if roosters really were anticipating, rather than reacting to, the sunrise.
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