The ground-roosting behaviour of a semi-feral population of domestic hens with broods of chicks was measured in The Gambia, West Africa. Although neither day length nor time of sunset changed significantly over the duration of the study (January–March 1995), mean daily light intensity showed a significant increase. This resulted in an increasingly rapid decline in light intensity at dusk as the season progressed. Hens went to roost significantly later in the day, and at lower light levels, over the course of the season. The results support a model suggesting that the cue to start roosting is a certain light level, constant over the season, but the ‘settling period' required means that the hens finally roost at later times and at lower light levels as the season progresses.