Mark your calendar and set your alarm! 6th May 2018 is International Dawn Chorus Day, a day that celebrates nature’s symphony of bird song.
International Dawn Chorus Day falls on the first Sunday of May and has been celebrated since the 1980’s when, as the story goes, broadcaster and environmentalist Chris Baines asked everyone to attend his birthday party at 4am so they could enjoy the dawn chorus with him. International Dawn Chorus Day has since grown from a small event in Birmingham to an annual international celebration with Dawn Chorus events held as far afield as the Caribbean and Antarctica!
What is The Dawn Chorus?
The dawn chorus is a natural wonder that occurs at the start of each day and is most noticeable in spring. The Chorus reaches its peak in May when we celebrate a whole variety of bird species that can be heard serenading us. The most common to hear are robins, blackbirds, thrushes, chaffinches, warblers and finches. Interestingly there is a pattern to the order the birds start to sing with the robins, blackbirds and thrushes usually rising first.
When can I hear them?
You will have to be an early bird if you want to catch the first few singers with the chorus starting about an hour before sunrise, but, if you want to catch a few more winks then the chorus is at its peak for half an hour before and after sunrise. The songs carry on well into the morning so plenty of time to listen!
Why do the birds sing so early?
At this time in the morning it is too dark to search for food and, as dawn breaks, the air is usually very still which means there’s less background noise and sound can travel further with sound carrying around 20 times further than it would later in the day!
It is no coincidence that the dawn chorus coincides with spring and the breeding season. It is mainly male birds that are heard singing as they use their song to protect their territory and attract a mate, this is because singing on an empty stomach is hard work, so, the bird that can sing the loudest is the one that is well fed, strongest and has the territory with most food.
Where can I hear them?
The best spots include nature reserves and green spaces like parks. However, if you have trees, bushes and hedgerows around your house or street then heading into your back garden can be just as rewarding.
If you do want to head out a bit further, on International Dawn Chorus Day there are Dawn Chorus events held all around the country. Head over to The Wildlife Trusts website (http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/whats-on/) to search for a Dawn Chorus event near you!
Why bird song is good for you…
It is well known that being out in nature has benefits on both your mental and physical health, but there is more and more research taking place on the benefits of listening to nature and bird song in particular. There are suggestions that listening to bird song can be relaxing physically while helping you focus mentally, so what better way to get ready for the day ahead then getting up a little earlier to listen to nature’s own relaxation soundtrack?
So this International Dawn Chorus Day set your alarm a little earlier and head outside to listen out for the natural phenomenon of the dawn chorus. Why not get the whole family involved and see how many different birds you can hear? Feel the benefits of nature and perhaps learn something new too!