We live on the outskirts of Reading, surrounded by fields and woodland. We have a lovely garden with several mature deciduous trees, and our garden is always full of birds. I feed them daily, copious amounts, and at this time of year they really gobble it all up.
The Dawn Chorus is so very loud, especially in this warmer weather when the bedroom window is wide open. It begins at 3.30am and always wakes me up! Not that I mind – it’s so joyful and jubilant and a wonderful way to begin the day. I lie half asleep listening to the birds singing their hearts out, and as they tail off just after sunrise (currently at 4.45am) I go back to sleep, feeling happy and with a lovely memory of beautiful birdsong feeding into my dreams.
According to the RSPB website, it’s the male birds who sing the Dawn Chorus, in the hope of attracting a mate. May and June are the peak times for the early morning symphony. The first birds to be heard are apparently skylarks, robins, song thrushes and blackbirds. In this pre-dawn half-light, birds would find it difficult to forage for food and obviously there’s less risk of predators, so this is the ideal time to impress the females with your beautiful song. There’s also less noise from humans and traffic, so the chorus can apparently travel twenty times as far! There’s another chorus at dusk, which appeals more to sparrows and blue tits.
The Woodland Trust has this to say about the Dawn Chorus:
The dawn chorus is all about defending territory and raising chicks. The singing you can hear in the morning is typically carried out by male birds. Making so much noise uses up a lot of energy, especially on an empty stomach and after a chilly night, so only the strongest, best-fed males will produce the loudest songs. In doing they demonstrate to females that they are fit, healthy and hold a territory with plenty of food. A loud song also serves as a deterrent for any rival males who may be looking to move in.
They also add:
Birds start singing at different times, and just like an orchestra, there’s a set sequence. Robins, blackbirds and thrushes are first. The pre-dawn singers are joined by woodpigeons, wrens and warblers, while great tits, blue tits, sparrows and finches only add their voices when it’s light enough for them to see.
In our garden, once the gorgeous birdsong starts to tail off, the wood pigeons begin. We get a lot of these in our garden. Their call is very distinctive, and as a child, I used to imagine they were singing, ‘Real thing, this is the real thing.’ A wake-up call to live your life mindfully and enjoy every moment! Something I’ve tried to remember all my life.
So … enjoy the beautiful Dawn Chorus while it lasts, as it won’t be around much longer once all the birds have chosen their mates. And listen out for the Dusk Chorus too, equally gorgeous. Remember to feed the birds – I give them birdseed, suet pellets, fat balls, mealworms and soaked dog biscuit, all of which they devour. At this time of year, with birds mating and then feeding their young, they especially need extra food (and obviously during the cold winter months too). We are so very lucky to have these lovely feathered friends about, and it’s a wonderful way to start the day, filling your mind and consciousness with jubilation and the precious sounds of nature.