Have you ever been woken up at 5am with what seems like every bird in your neighbourhood singing at the top of its voice?
If so, then you have been listening to the famous Dawn Chorus.
This happens during from March to late June, when there is a crescendo of song just before dawn. The true dawn chorus only lasts about 20 minutes, and is amazing to hear. The first to sing are Robins, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds, followed by Wrens, Dunnocks and warblers such as Blackcaps, Reed Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers, and of course Nightingales, if you are lucky enough to be somewhere where they are still present.
So what is it all about? Birds sing to attract a mate and defend a breeding territory against other males, so why do they sing so strongly at dawn? It is thought that males want to start defending their territory as soon as possible in the day, and that it is also a safe time to sing, when predators are less likely to be out and about. As it is difficult to feed in the dark, the males can concentrate on attracting and holding on to a mate.
For us humans, it is best to be ready about half an hour before dawn, and then listen to the song build in intensity. As there are so many birds singing it can be difficult to separate one from another, so it is best to just relax and enjoy it, rather than worry too much about identifying the singers. As the dawn breaks properly the volume subsides and it then becomes easier to pick out individual species.
If you are interested in experiencing the dawn chorus, why not come along on Sunday, April 28, ato Dinton Pastures Country Park in Winnersh, and join the Wokingham and Bracknell RSPB Local Group on their annual Dawn Chorus Walk, which starts at 5am in the main car park.
You do not need to book. The charge is only £2, which goes to the RSPB, and children go free. RSPB members lead groups around the country park for up to three hours, and the Dragonfly café will be open for breakfast at 8.30am.
For further information, see our website ww2.rspb.org.uk/groups/wokinghamandbracknell/events/, email email@example.com, or phone group leader Patrick Crowley on 07963 076940.
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