International Dawn Chorus Day - 4th May

Tomorrow is International Dawn Chorus Day. Many organisations, such as the county branches of the Wildlife Trusts will be hosting various dawn chorus walks tomorrow and throughout May, with experts on hand to help identify what's being heard. It'll be an early start - most of the walks are timed for about 5am, just as the dawn chorus is beginning to reach its crescendo.

I've been awake since 4am most days for the past few weeks. The robins are particularly vocal at that time. We also appear to have a female tawny owl calling out for a mate at the moment, so it's pretty noisy around here, even with double glazing. Once awake, I continue to doze until proper waking up time and I'm aware of the constantly changing chorus of birds until about 6.30am. The dawn chorus is the male birds way of finding out who from their rivals have survived the night. These are still quite chilly at the moment and any bird that hasn't fed properly the previous day is vulnerable. It also allows the birds to tell any female in the vicinity just how good a catch they are as they're a born survivor, plus warn any other males out of their teritory.

Before the internet really got going, I invested in the pictured book by the rather aptly named Geoff Sample. It has 2 CDs to help you identify the calls of around 200 birds of Britain and Northern Europe. It's arranged by habitat, so I just need to find the urban, garden and farmland sections to hear the calls of most of the birds around here. I can now find the same information on the internet of course, but somehow it isn't the same as Geoff's whispered voice telling me what's what. If you can't get to any of the walks, the BBC have been going around the country recording this year's dawn chorus. You can find what's down your way by flying over to this website and clicking on the area of the map that's nearest to you. Happy listening!


  1. Thanks for the link for the dawn chorus, I love the birds, and really all part and parcel of the pleasure of gardening. How nice to have a resident owl, something I don't think we would see in our neighbourhood. Mr Blackbird always does a good job of waking us up, or the blessed magpies! x

  2. Thanks for such an informative post, VP. I've been wishing I could identify all the bird calls I hear around here. The chorus walk you mention sounds very interesting. I'm sure there are similar events held near me, but I am not a 5 AM sort of person! (The only reason I'm up this morning is because the cat sat on my head and chewed on my hair until I got up and let him out!)

  3. Sounds fun, VP. But 5am is kinda early. Maybe I'll be up to hear some songbirds in my own garden tomorrow morning, though.

    Many songbirds across North America are declining rapidly. I'm hoping my gardens will make a difference.

  4. Hi VP. There's a five o'clock in the morning now?

    I was lucky enough to hear a nightingale last Spring down on the canal. I can only recognize a handfull of birds by their call and It'd be nice to know what all the other calls are. I did have an audio tape somewhere but I don't know where now. The book and CD look good.

    We have owls around where I live and it's lovely to hear them in the night. We also have what I think is a nightjar.

    My absolute favourites though are the jackdaws. I swear they're laughing. It's such a comforting sound.


  5. I'm regularly awake at five, which is when our resident blackbird strikes up. It's a lovely way to start the day.

  6. Louise - only too glad to oblige!

    Rose - sounds just like what Jess does given half the chance. Do you have the American equivalent of the RSPB website to help with bird identification?

    Dirty knees - it is early, but the birds around here are waking me up anyway. And breakfast tastes so much better after you've been up a couple of hours...

    Simon - aaahhh nightingales. One of my favourite memories of being out in Mallorca at this time of the year was the nightingale in the tree right by our dormitory singing me to sleep. I'd love to hear a nightjar though.

    Sue - yes it is!


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