International Dawn Chorus Day - Did You Know It Isn't Just Birds That Sing?

International Dawn Chorus Day - Did You Know It Isn't Just Birds That Sing?

Posted by Ellie Hutchin on 7th May 2017

What Is A Dawn Chorus?

Typically, a dawn chorus occurs during spring, and is sung by many species of bird all over the globe. The purpose of this, is of course in the wise words of David Attenborough, because they are looking for a mate, as spring is the season for new life. As the twilight fades, and dawn breaks, the furry little alarm clocks take to the stage and do their best to impress. It is normally male passerines, or songbirds that sing to attract a female, and defend their territory as their melodies act as a warning to others.

Whilst dawn chorus season officially begins in March as spring commences, it peaks in May, which is why we humans choose to celebrate this incredible phenomenon then. Those clever little songbirds deserve to be acknowledged whilst in their finest form, no?

singing bird

What Birds Sing At Dawn Chorus?

Most commonly, the typical birds that participate in the dawn chorus are ...

  • Blackbirds
  • Chaffinches
  • Robins
  • Wrens
  • Pheasants
  • Warblers
  • Thrushes
  • Finches

Did you know?

Some birds like chaffinches and great tits hold a repertoire of different songs they like to share. However, it is not for our entertainment, it is to trick other birds into thinking that all territory in a given area is taken. Who knew there could be so much intelligence in a cute ball of fluff? Not just a pretty face…

singing bird

Why Do They Sing At Dawn?

In the dimly lit dawn, there is not great opportunity to find food, and thus the birds are quite frankly, wondering how they can make that time useful. Aha! They can use it to attract a mate…

At this time of the day, the air is at its stillest, and therefore the sweet sounds of bird song travels much further. Researchers claim that a song sung during the dawn chorus is 20 times more effective than one sung at midday.

There is actually a systematic order in which the birds have their time to shine, and here we discover the origins of the expression ‘the early bird catches worm’ may lie within nature’s very own symphony. The first birds begin to sing approximately an hour before sunrise. If you have enough will power to be up at that time, you may even notice that some species habitually begin before others. Robins and blackbirds are first to sing, and they eat worms. Wrens and Warblers sing later, and they eat insects, that naturally remain dormant in the earlier stages of breaking dawn.

Take listen to the most common dawn chorus below!

Do Any Other Animals Have Habits Like This?

Several animals throughout the entire ecosystem fill the setting of a golden sunrise with their fascinating vocalisations.



Lions are most active throughout the night and early in the morning, as this is when they hunt. Therefore, do not be surprised if your wakeup call is the glorious roar of this majestic beast whilst on an African adventure. These big cats will communicate with each other to inform fellow pride members of their whereabouts, or if a male is trying to track down his lioness. The brilliant calls of lions can be heard up to 8 kilometres away!

Take a listen ...

gibbon ape


These adorable apes are situated in the vibrant tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. The intelligent acrobats produce magnificent songs in the morning light, revealing the primate’s species, sex and individual identity. The harmonies of Gibbons are the most complex of all land mammals and their waves travel as far as a staggering 2 kilometres! You could have the chance to potentially see these apes in the wild on our Great Orangutan and Pygmy Elephant Project! Even if you don’t see them, you will definitely hear them.

The sounds of the gibbon will stay with you...



This certainly came as a shocker to us. Curtin University in Australia recorded vocal fish off Port Hedland over an 18-month period. Most of the underwater concerts come from soloist fish, but when they overlap, an amazing fish choir can be heard. The university discovered seven different fish choruses occurring at dawn and dusk. Some of the fish that partake in this jam are black jewfish, species of terapontid and batfish.

Don't believe us? Check it out!

The dawn chorus is a truly spell binding phenomenon that occurs within nature. Doesn’t it just make you want to take a walk on the wild side? If you are interested in seeing some of the animals mentioned above, then check out our project page to volunteer abroad with endangered animals.

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