I lived in Japan long enough to realize that animals also face language barriers. A rooster in the Land of the Rising Sun does not make a “cock-a-doodle-doo” sound. It raises its throat, opens its beak, and goes “ko-ke-kokko.”
So when I recently encountered a Turkish rooster, I was ready for a lost in translation experience. According to my brother-in-law, Turkish roosters crow with an onomatopoeic sound something like “oort-ortu-ora.” At least that’s what I heard. The official website spelling is “üğüüğüürüüü.” Let’s just agree that a Turkish rooster sounds much like an American one at the crack of dawn.
This Turkish bird did other things that roosters around the world do. He strutted importantly to impress his brood of hens, and he sounded off in a menacing manner whenever we came near. The rooster was not all crow and no go—he is well known for his head butts to the ankles. When we gathered eggs or cleaned the coop, we stayed vigilant.
My wife Lana and I spent a week on the farm in Turkey. My sister Ann (left) and her husband Kaya have more than 15,000 olive trees, hundreds of almond trees, and a newly planted vineyard to nurture, so they let us help with a few chores—chickens included. We butted heads with the flock often enough to gather eggs for breakfast—and they tasted great, much like the eggs on my other sister’s farm. Mary and her husband Doug work the land in Iowa, and they have a flock of equivalent size to Ann and Kaya’s.
Like a lot of things in farming, “backyard chickens” are similar around the world. Whether in Japan, Iowa, or Turkey—the rooster crows and does little; the hens scratch around and lay eggs; and the farmers care for the flock properly to enjoy the results.