QuickCheck: Can a rooster be deafened by its own crowing?

THE rooster, or "nature' alarm clock" and its crowing is as iconic as it is annoying – especially when one is trying to sleep past dawn.

It is claimed that a rooster's crowing gets as loud as a jet engine, which presents an interesting question: can a rooster go deaf from its own crowing?



The "cock-a-doodle-doo" one hears can get very loud indeed. Instances of over 100 decibels (dB) have been recorded – easily past the 85dB threshold that can cause permanent hearing loss in humans.

So if the sheer intensity of a rooster's crow would be enough to put a human at risk of permanent hearing damage, why then, are there more deaf roosters walking the earth?

The answer is that Mother Nature knows what she's doing, and has given roosters special ears to protect themselves from their own crowing.

A team of Belgian scientists discovered that roosters have unique ear canals that close when their beaks fully open – in other words, they have built-in earplugs!

Interestingly, hens do not have this protective adaptation.

It is theorised that it was not necessary for hens to develop specialised ear physiology as their regular vocalisations are not self-damagingly loud.

In addition, while a rooster's crow can be damaging at close range, sound levels drop dramatically with distance.

Roosters generally choose a high vantage point to crow from, which means hens and chicks are rarely exposed at full blast.

But what would happen if a rooster theoretically chooses to crow directly in a hen's ear?

Setting aside the poor hen's annoyance, birds have one distinct advantage over humans in this area – they are able to quickly regenerate damaged hair cells in the inner ear.

Thus, no chicken will ever have to worry about hearing loss. Hear, hear!


1. https://www.science.org/content/article/how-roosters-protect-themselves-their-own-deafening-crows

2. https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/roosters-have-special-ears-so-they-dont-crow-themselves-to-deaf

3. https://phys.org/news/2018-01-roosters-dont-deaf-loud-crowing.html

4. https://www.audubon.org/news/how-chickens-could-inspire-new-treatments-deafness

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