The dawn chorus
Do you know your chaffinch from your chiffchaff? The dawn chorus is worth getting up for, so set your alarm and enjoy the sound of spring!
Every morning, from March to July, we have the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful natural concert: the dawn chorus.
As breeding season gets underway during spring, morning birdsong becomes louder and louder – typically peaking in May and June.
Birds sing loudly at dawn in an effort to attract a mate and defend their territories. With less background noise early in the morning, birdsong can carry much further. Singing is hard work, so it's usually the fittest, best-fed males who sing the loudest – and stand the greatest chance of attracting a female.
There's also an evening performance – the dusk chorus – but this tends to be quieter. When birds sing in the evening, it's easier to hear some species, like blue tits and tree sparrows, whose songs may get lost in the morning cacophony.
Hearing the dawn chorus is a beautiful experience that's worth getting up early for. But listening to birdsong can be beneficial at any time of day – it can help you to de-stress, and is a good way to connect with nature.
If you're not able to get out to enjoy the dawn chorus, you can listen to this .
Here's a quick guide to ten of the most common birds you might hear.
Instantly recognisable, the robin is the UK's favourite bird. Its melodious call is often the first song to be heard each morning. Robins are fiercely territorial, so they will continue to sing all day long – and sometimes even at night.
One of the most common birds in the UK, seen in woodlands, parks and gardens everywhere. The chaffinch's song is a short, joyful sequence of notes that's repeated exactly over and over again.
The blackbird can be seen almost anywhere in the UK. One of the most melodic of the garden birds, its song is a series of rich, flutey notes. Blackbirds get up early for their favourite food, worms, which are easier to find when the ground is soft and wet in the early morning.
Greenfinch populations have been in decline in recent years, linked to an outbreak of trichomonosis – a parasite-induced disease. Keeping garden feeders clean can help stop the spread of this fatal disease. The greenfinch's song features short bursts of high-pitched trills.
The chiffchaff is resident year-round in some parts of the UK – but in areas where it's a summer visitor, its unmistakable call is a sure sign that spring has arrived. This bird is named after its song – a repetitive two-tone “chiff chaff, chiff chaff”.
The blue tit's colourful blue and yellow plumage makes it one of our most recognisable garden birds. One of the later arrivals to the dawn chorus, as the insects it eats aren't available very early in the morning.
Photo by on
One of the smallest birds in the UK, the tiny wren is another late arrival to the dawn chorus, offering a fast-paced sequence of trills and notes.
A striking green and yellow bird with a black head. The great tit's call is one of the easiest to recognise – a two-syllable, see-saw song that sounds like 'teacher, teacher, teacher'.
Along with robins, dunnocks are among the earliest to sing each morning. Their fast-paced warble can sometimes start as early as an hour before sunrise.
The blackcap is primarily a summer visitor to the UK, although birds from Germany and north-east Europe are increasingly spending the winter here too. Its pretty, tuneful song can be heard in leafy parks and gardens.
For more birdsongs to listen out for, see this guide to from the RSPB.
To attract more birds to your garden – and so create more opportunities to listen to their beautiful songs – offer a variety of different foods. Try for a selection of good-value seeds, peanuts, suet-based foods, and feeders.
Little Green Space April 2023
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