Chicken Keeps Shaking Her Head

You might have recently brought home a chicken or two, and the one thing that appears odd to you will be when you find your chicken shaking its head.

Now, for veteran pet parents of flocks of chicken, such behavior doesn’t appear out of the ordinary at all.

But, for many first-time chicken owners, watching your chicken shake their heads can be a bit unnerving.

Question is – Why does my chicken keep shaking her head?

However, you should know that chickens shake their heads or scratch them from time to time.

And, often, the cause for their head shaking or scratching can be some irritation in their nose, eyes, or throat.

In most cases, the reason behind your chicken shaking its head is perfectly benign, and the issue generally resolves itself.

However, if the behavior continues and seems to worsen, then it is time to head to the local avian vet to get a medical check-up of your feathered pet.

So, let’s take an in-depth look at the various reasons why your chicken might shake its head and what are the possible steps you can take to put your beloved pet at ease.

What Are The Reasons For Your Chicken Shaking Its Head?

Chickens make pretty cool pets as these are highly sociable creatures that are intelligent and vivacious.

Chickens don’t mull about; they are mostly full of energy and constantly move around doing foraging or food running.

Hence, you should know that your chicken might shake its head for multiple reasons.

Here’s a list of some of the causes behind your chicken shaking its head:

Breaking Up Food

If you catch your chicken holding a big piece of food in its beak and shaking its head, you should know that you have nothing to worry about.

Your chicken is simply shaking its head to break its food bite into smaller pieces.

And, there is a phenomenon known as food running in chickens.

It’s like watching a bunch of people play rugby.

One chicken will grab a big bite of food and start to run, and another chicken will join in the fray and run and try to snatch the bite out of each other’s mouth.

The running, tackling, and grabbing is the easiest way for a chicken to break apart large pieces of food into smaller, more easily eatable bites.

Food Lodged In Throat

In the unfortunate event that your chicken gets some piece of food lodged into its throat, one of the first things it will do is shake its head to dislodge the stuck food.

Drinking water, squawking loudly, and stretching its neck are behaviors that often follow after head-shaking when your chicken has something stuck in its throat.

You should know that such behavior in chickens is considered normal.

You see, chickens love to eat fast, and they tend to swallow large pieces of food that can get stuck in the throat.

So, their natural discourse in such an eventuality is to dislodge the food in the throat by performing a series of actions such as head shaking.

To avoid a choking hazard, you need to offer food sources to your chicken that are similar to what chickens eat in the wild.

Chickens in the wild don’t rely on their pet parents for everything.

If you find your chicken squawking about, stretching its neck, and drinking water, allow it some time to resolve the problem on its own.

Water Up Their Nose

If your feathered friend tried to drink water from the water trough and managed to get some water into its nostrils, then you may be sure your chicken will continue to shake its head until it doesn’t find some relief from the agitation.

When chickens drink water, they gather the water into their mouths and tip their heads up to use gravity to push the water down their throats as they have tiny tongues.

Now the nose of a chicken is located on the chicken’s beaks, so it’s prevalent for chickens to get water into their noses.

The most standard response to water in the nose is head shaking, scratching, or sneezing. 

Sign Of Nervousness

Chickens shake their heads when they are nervous as well.

So, if you find that your rooster is shaking its head facing another rooster, there might be a fight that is about to ensue.

If you can’t find a reason for your chicken’s nervousness, then there might be one flying high up in the sky – a hawk or falcon.

Related article – When do hawks hunt chickens?

Itchy Ears Or Mites

Chickens don’t have ears like humans or most other animals.

You see, chickens have ears at the side of their heads, below and behind their eyes.

Chickens don’t have external ears; they have slits for ears covered with feathers.

But, the internal ear of a chicken is relatively developed, and chickens have about 20 vocalizations, which proves that chickens have a very keen sense of hearing. 

But, chickens love to play in the dirt, and if your chicken has been too high-spirited during its dirt bath, then head shaking is inevitable.

Chickens scratch their ears with one leg while balancing on the other leg. 

Related article – Chicken sleeping on the ground

Another thing that might cause your feathered friend to itch is mites.

Mites are very common in chickens.

Mites can quickly enter the ears, eyes, or nose, they can cause quite a bit of irritation.

Treating your chicken’s dust play area with a bit of diatomaceous earth will help in reducing the number of parasites that cling to your pet.

You can even sprinkle some food-grade DE into the chicken feed to eliminate the parasites that can be found in your chicken’s mouth, throat, and esophagus.

You should frequently check on the chicken coop and your birdie’s bedding for signs of any parasites.

Sometimes, chickens can get ear infections from intense ear scratching that can cause bacteria or fungi to develop in the internal ear.

You should regularly give your chickens a thorough weekly check-up to ensure that your birdie is free of parasites or any disease.

Final Words 

Chickens are inclined to scratch or shake their heads like any other animal.

But, if your chicken is shaking its head with rigor, and increased frequency, then you need to consult with the local vet to ensure that your chicken will be alright.

You should remember that though chickens are sturdy creatures, they require love and care as much as any domestic pet.


We at write about bird health and diet however it should not be taken as medical advice. For advice on your bird you need to seek out an avian vet. The information you find on is for educational purposes only. At we are not liable for any information that you may find on here. Birdcageshere is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice about your bird.