There’s a good reason to get up early this weekend – it’s International Dawn Chorus Day, when people all over the world watch the sun come up to the music of nature’s greatest symphony.
The annual event is traditionally celebrated on the first Sunday of May, and began in the 1980s as a small early-morning party in Birmingham. Since then it has grown to include events in over eighty countries around the world, as far afield as the Caribbean and Antarctica.
The dawn chorus is a sure sign that spring has well and truly arrived, and it’s all about finding a mate. The birds singing the dawn chorus are mostly male, showing off to any females in the area and letting everyone around know this patch is theirs! Only the strongest, best-fed males produce the loudest songs, so they’re also demonstrating their prowess and suitability for raising chicks.
You can hear the dawn chorus at any time between March and July, but it’s at its loudest during May and June. The first singers start about an hour before sunrise, and carry on well into the morning.
Amazingly, different birds start singing at different times, with a set sequence. Robins, blackbirds and thrushes sing first, followed by wood pigeons, wrens and warblers. Great tits, blue tits, sparrows and finches only raise their voices when it’s light enough for them to see.
You can join in one of the many organised events happening all over the country (see www.idcd.info for more details), or simply stay in your own back garden: you’ll tempt more of your feathered orchestra in with a bird feeder packed with delicious nuts, seeds and fat balls, all available from our garden centre in Iver and Bourne End. Then set your alarm clock, settle down in a comfy chair and enjoy the show!