Birdwatchers of the world unite to hear a dawn symphony

A A A

Some will be hoping for the mellifluous melody of the blackbird, others the liquid warble of the robin and still more the raucous, tuneless cry of the house sparrow. Whatever the preference, the promise of a memorable dawn chorus will be enough to attract hundreds of people this weekend for an annual communion that is drawing a growing number of avian devotees.

Some will be hoping for the mellifluous melody of the blackbird, others the liquid warble of the robin and still more the raucous, tuneless cry of the house sparrow. Whatever the preference, the promise of a memorable dawn chorus will be enough to attract hundreds of people this weekend for an annual communion that is drawing a growing number of avian devotees.

The International Dawn Chorus Day was just the plain old Dawn Chorus Day when a bunch of bird enthusiasts in the Black Country made a 4.30am start to appreciate it in 1983. It went global as enthusiasts from the United States to the Seychelles caught on and this year there will be around 100 gatherings at British locations as varied as Dorset and inner-city Birmingham.

Inevitably, the growing appreciation of the symphony - fuelled in no small part by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' Garden Birdwatch project which attracted 400,000 people last year - has begun to attract commercial spin-offs.

Two CDs, Dawn Chorus and Songs of Garden Birds have been recently launched, following the remarkable success of a disc produced by the British Trust for Ornithology, which sold thousands.

Bird ringtones are also popular, the yellowhammer, wood warbler and lapwing are among many that can be downloaded.

Blissfully unaware of all the excitement, the songbirds which deliver tomorrow morning will generally be males who perform to advertise for a mate and keep rivals away. He will leave gaps in his song to listen for replies, establish where any rivals might be and concentrate defensive efforts on those who may be in search of territory. Some species, such as great tits and chaffinches, will have a large repertoire of choruses to convince other males that all the territory is spoken for.

They sing at dawn simply because it is the best time of the day: the air is generally calmer and sound transmission is good. A dawn song is thought to be 20 times more effective than singing at midday.

Neil Wyatt, chief executive of the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country, which co-ordinates the event, said interest in birdsong is growing:"All sorts of little things have helped.... Here in Birmingham we have two peregrine falcons nesting in the Telecom Tower. It's really got people talking.

"The biggest down is that we never find out how many hundreds of people are taking part until they write to us, long after the event, with a record of what they have heard."

In 2001, the BBC demonstrated the international dimension of the day by playing extracts of bird and animal sounds between programmes, such as great reed warblers in Sweden, otters in Venezuela and trumpeter swans in Alaska.

"Our songbirds have been in decline due to loss of habitat and intensive farming," said Mr Wyatt. "The skylark has rapidly fallen in number by 52 per cent, the corn bunting by 84 per cent and the tree sparrow a staggering 87 per cent. This event is a reminder of their enduring importance to us."

Many of tomorrow's dawn chorus events are listed at: http://www.wildlifetrust.org.uk/urbanwt/html/idcd.html

Five songs to listen for in the morning chorus

ROBINS: have what might best be described as a twittering warble, or a warbling twitter, something like twiddle-eedee, twiddle-eedoo, sung usually from high up, surprisingly loudly.

WRENS : also have a long warble that is remarkably loud, given their tiny size. A shrill purring trill always occurs in the middle.

CHAFFINCHES: a descending, accelerating cheeping song ending in a distinctive flourish, sometimes portrayed as "chip chip chip, chooee chooee cheeoo".

GREAT TITS: a piercing repetitive call sometimes rendered as "teacher teacher teacher tee". Outside your window, can drive you nuts.

BLACKBIRDS: a rich, loud and musical song, pure, liquid and fluting. Also evident on spring evenings.

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
News
news

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Analyst - London - £38,000

£30000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Data Analyst - Lon...

Norwegian Speaking Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive OTE: SThree: Progressive in Manchester...

IT Support Analyst - London - £22,000

£20000 - £22000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chel...

Learning Support Assistants-Nantwich area

£8 - £9 per hour: Randstad Education Chester: We are currently recruiting for ...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London