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Dawn Chorus - Penny Snowden

How wonderful that in tandem with the sudden greening of everything around

us we can now experience the full joy of the dawn chorus. Simply put, the

dawn chorus is the collective twitterings, tweetings and chirps of wild birds.

The sound is unmistakable. It starts with a few songs – listen for robins,

blackbirds and thrushes – just before dawn. They're soon joined by other

voices until all the birds in the area are singing together.

This occurs early in the morning from March to July, with the peak occurring

in May and June. The first singers pipe up about an hour before sunrise, so

you’ll need to be an early bird – especially if you want to catch the first few

songs or identify individual birds.

But you don’t have to get up before it’s light. The chorus is at its best around

30 minutes either side of sunrise, but the songs carry on well into the

morning, meaning there’s plenty of time to listen – perfect if you want a few

extra minutes in bed!

In a British garden during spring, the song thrush may be the first to strike up.

Soon he will be followed by the robin, blackbird, wren, garden warbler,

chiffchaff, hedge sparrow and chaffinch.

The early bird gets the worm. If you listen carefully, you may notice that

there is a regular sequence, with some species habitually starting before

others. Among the earliest to rise are skylarks, song thrushes, robins and

blackbirds, and as they do eat worms there may be some truth to the old


‘I listened to the dawn chorus,

Birds were greeting the new day.

Were they singing praise to Horus,

As they had in Egypt’s ancient way.

Or were they glad to be alive,

As darkness turned to blessed light.

Feeding their fledglings so to thrive,

That they may too enjoy this thrilling sight.

Awakening to the early morning dew,

Feeling the warmth of the new sun.

A privilege granted to but a few,

For many the daylight do but shun.

I have listened to the bird’s greetings,

When all around was calm and still.

To me they were happy meetings,

That still gives me a tremendous thrill.’

George Bernard Shaw

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