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The Dawn Chorus


The Dawn Chorus

It’s 6am! Damn, I overslept. I never oversleep. Well only sometimes. Ever since I can remember I’ve woken around dawn, as those first rays of light peek around the edge of the curtains and slide under the door.

But today1 of all days, I woke with a start; stumbled downstairs, making it to the back door first (quite a feat this), without tripping over the dogs and cats, scrapping for poll position. The cats always win - they streak out, with the dogs following like greyhounds out of the traps. All in good fun!

The sun streamed in. Golden for a moment before the rain clouds closed in. Silence! Only an odd Woodpigeon coo-cooing in the distant wood and the squawk of a startled pheasant. It was over.

Well that’s my story - and I’m sticking to it!

So for those who missed it, grab a cup of coffee (or tea), a chocolate digestive, or two (go on then I’ll have another) - and sink into your favourite chair ... Are you ready - are you sitting comfortably - then with a certain flourish and panache (put the cup down first) conduct your own ‘Chorus’

Play some, or all of the audio clips below together. Yes together (a nifty quirk of WordPress). Start with the Skylark or Song Thrush, which have the longest running time, then gradually bring in a few of the others - your choice ...

Have fun!

Tomorrow, I’ll be up with the lark. I’ll leave the bedroom window open, curtains drawn back. I’ll be wide awake - listening ...


I’ve missed a few - the Nightingale for a lucky few; Wood Warbler and Goldfinch - everyone has their favourites: what are yours - I’d love to know. Do leave a comment and I’ll add them in ...

Maybe then I’ll see you later this evening - join me in a glass of wine, and read my companion post, if you haven’t already (revised and updated)!

Birds of the Night

And if, like me, you find many bird songs seem to sound much the same - Lev Parikian has put together a great guide to British bird songs, on his blog here ...

Oh and did you guess the bird in the header image - Blackbird, Woodlark, Meadow Pipit? A new one for me but I liked the picture. It’s a Meadowlark - a relative of our Starling!

The recordings in this post are used here under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. These and many more can be found at - Xeno-Canto



... I was staying at a farmhouse in the New Forest, and on the side of the house where I slept there was a large arbor vitse in which a blackbird roosted every night on a level with my window. Now, every morning at half-past three this bird would begin to sing and go on repeating his song at short intervals for about half an hour. It was very silent at that time ; I could hear no other bird ; and the sound coming in at the open window from a distance of but five yards had such a marvellous beauty that I could have wished for no more blessed existence than to lie there, head on pillow, with the pale early light and the perfume of night-flowers in the room, listening to that divine sound.

Adventures with Birds - W H Hudson

So listen to his song once more ...

 first light  the blackbird’s song fills my room


  1. Taking place on the first Sunday of May (the 3rd May this year), International Dawn Chorus Day is the worldwide celebration of nature's greatest symphony. This year there are unlikely to be early morning walks with experts to help you enjoy a start to the day filled with birdsong. But remember, to just open your window - and listen...
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Andrea Stephenson
May 4, 2020 4:38 pm

I may have heard it in passing, but I didn’t get up for it – thinking about it was as close as I got! The robin is my favourite I think, with his sad vibrato!

Colin Blundell
Colin Blundell
May 3, 2020 7:21 am

Chaffinches abound in my garden – with a more expansive song than in the recording!

And they appear to ‘talk’ endlessly to friends across the big ‘drain’ (courtesy of that Dutch chap who systematised the waterways in this area) that divides us from the only other garden for miles. What was his name? Van-something or other, no doubt – maybe the chaffinches can remember…

alternate beak-wagging
of chaffinches
one garden to another


Got it! Vermoyden (spelling?0

May 3, 2020 10:41 am

Clive, this is such a treat, thank you! I too have experienced the magic of a lone blackbird singing in the night although not for a few years. Very special. But here, now, our dawn chorus consists of blackbirds and robins, chaffinches and a variety of other players. The skylarks sing but at a distance too great for me to hear them from the bed. They are the daily bnus when I climb out of the valley and reach the higher ground. Between there and here are the stonechats, who bob up and down along the hedgerows and along the telephone wires like small jack-in-the-boxes.

May 3, 2020 8:00 pm

What a feast Clive! along with the chocolate biscuits, glass of wine and opportunity to do some conducting as you say. Now I’ll pour myself another glass, start making supper and enjoy again! Here in London the blackbirds are joyous and the trees are rippling. Where in North Wales are you? I was in Snowdonia a long time ago. I like your haiku – into just those few words is packed that bubbling sound. We lived on the North York moors in 1954, and remember the curlew.

May 5, 2020 8:48 am

How lovely!

May 6, 2020 12:16 am

I mentioned on someone else’s blog that I had forgotten about Dawn Chorus Day but was woken early by a blackbird singing just above my window. It was glorious!
I have real difficulty telling the garden warbler and the blackcap apart. When I can compare the two by listening to recordings, as I have just done using your xeno-canto ones, I can hear the difference. The garden warbler has many more scratchy notes and perhaps isn’t quite as tuneful as the blackcap. However, as soon as I hear either one or the other in the field, I am flummoxed! I think we might have both in our garden but they don’t sing at the same time.
Thank you for this wonderful post, Clive!

May 6, 2020 12:53 pm

[…] visit Clive Bennett’s delightful post where you can recreate your own dawn chorus with whichever birds you choose. The Eurasian skylark is the first one on the list, but you can […]

May 23, 2020 12:37 pm

Wonderful! Head Office and I were talking about the need to look up birdsongs just the other day, not knowing anything about them (really) and having more time to sit and listen over the last few weeks.

Reply to  Clive Bennett
May 23, 2020 4:28 pm

We have a particularly friendly (or inquisitive) blackbird that sings his little heart out, bless him. And I’m sure I’ve spotted a thrush a couple of times – hope so, because we haven’t seen one round here for sometime. Birdsong is such a joyous sound.