Chickens very well may be the best watch animals of all time. They will certainly let you know very loudly when something is amiss. Many nights I had to sneak into the house and walk the dog in an area away from the chickens after a late night at work or else they would wake everyone with news of what I was doing. They would start off slow but rapidly gain momentum if I did not heed the first few calls and get my rear end in the house where they decided it belonged in the wee hours. However, once morning came and the sun rose, they were far less likely to make a rukus at my presence. Well, most of them were.
Enter \"Feather Foot\" as she came to be called. She was a Buff Brahma as far as anyone could tell; her appearance was unusual for a chicken around these parts. No one knew where she came from, just that she appeared one day. She kept us company for a while before moving on to shack up with a rooster a few farms over, but while she was present, she was very vocal.
Feather Foot decided that she owned the barn. If you entered the barn, she yelled at you. Truth be told, if you came close to entering the barn, she yelled at you, but the yelling got louder the closer you got to her throne. Conveniently, her throne was in my horse\'s stall, which was not working out for any of us. In the end, the chicken won and the horse was relocated, but she kept her chatter up.
Chickens make noise. They have a language all their own. For example, when a hen finds food, she alerts other hens by making a \'tick tick tick\' sound. Alternatively, cocks find food, they make short \'chirp chirp chirp\' sounds. Chickens also have varying warning calls for different types of predators, alerting to the type of threat and what avoidance maneuver to perform. Danger in the sky results in a high pitched \'eeeee\' and danger from the ground is conveyed via the \'bock-bock-bock-aww\' clucking with which chickens are most likely associated. Clearly Feather Foot feels I am ground-level danger.
While chickens will not hesitate to sound the alarm, they are very easy prey for a lot of predators both in the air and in the grass. Hawks, raccoons, foxes, wolves, and many more animals will scoop up a chicken and make a meal of it. Eggs are also on the menu. Giving your chickens safe harbor in a sturdy coop will give them the best chance of survival, but knowing their alarm calls and being ready to step in as needed is invaluable. Natural Selection and survival of the fittest are nice ideas, until something keeps eating your food source. Listen to your chickens; they will tell you whether to hold \'em or fold \'em, as well as when it is time to walk away and when to run.