It’s impossible not to have noticed how loud and beautiful bird song is at the moment. It’s a sound often compared to a natural symphony, where the instruments are the birds themselves, each singing a completely unique and individual tune that blends into a sound that soothes the soul.
What is the dawn chorus?
Dawn chorus is the name for the beautiful sound of birdsong that starts when the sun rises in the morning.
The arrival of the dawn chorus is often seen as a sign of spring, since during the winter months there are fewer birds around. Spring also sees an explosion in bird numbers as baby birds become fledgelings and start to leave the nest, joining their voices with that of their parents.
It’s loudest over spring and summer, because that singing is actually birds communicating with each other. They’re defending territory, attracting mates and ‘talking’ to each other.
The chorus starts about 30 minutes before the sun actually rises, and blackbirds and robins are amongst the first birds to start singing.
The RSPB has lots of information on the dawn chorus, which birds sing when and more.
International Dawn Chorus Day
This international day of celebration takes place on the 1st Sunday in May, and in 2020 that will be Sunday 3rd May.
All around the world, people listen out for the songs of their local birds. Usually, people go out for guided walks to listen to the songs and try to identify the birds making them, but that’s not possible during the lockdown.
Happily, that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved! With less traffic, the birdsong we hear is louder than ever, so all you really need to do is open your window, stand on your balcony or out in your garden!
How to get involved
While there aren’t any organised events happening for 2020, there are several ways you can still get involved at home.
Warning! You’ll need to set your alarm clock early, as dawn will happen at 05.38am on Sunday 3rd May – ouch! The good news is that if you do you’ll be rewarded with a special experience. Or you can leave it until a bit later in the morning, as the birds will still be singing later.
If you’re listening, why not try some of these ideas:
1. Listen carefully to the songs. Can you work out how many birds are singing? Can you identify individual songs and hear the pattern repeated?
2. See if you can identify some birds by their songs. The Wildlife Trusts have some song recordings you can use to help you get your ear in.
3. If you’ve got a bird table or feeder, spot which birds come to feed and whether they sing while they are there, or whether they prefer to sing in the trees and bushes nearby.
More useful links
- The Wildlife Trusts – Dawn Chorus Day
- The RSPB – Chorus Hub
- The RSPB – Wake up to the dawn chorus!
- Country Living – 4 ways to get involved with Dawn Chorus Day at home
- Wildlife Trusts – Dawn Chorus Day