Up with the Larks!

International Dawn Chorus Day – May 5, 2013

Richard Tepe, Aquatic Warble Near Her Nest with Young, June 25, 1935

International Dawn Chorus Day is held annually on the first Sunday in May, and aims to encourage the public to rise early and listen to bird song at organized events. The first ever event was held at Moseley Bog in Birmingham, England in 1984, by the Urban Wildlife Trust.

Richard Tepe, Two Newly-born White Birds Facing Frontward, ca. 1910–40

You don’t need to own binoculars or be an avid “twitcher” (bird watcher) to appreciate the awe inspiring vocal arrangements of your native birds this spring, but you will need to be an early bird if you want to catch your worm (as the saying goes). In the UK, the dawn chorus can begin as early as 4am, and is usually kicked off by the blackbirds and the robins, who are joined by wrens, tawny owls, chaffinches, and finally the pheasants, warblers, song thrushes, dunnocks, and finches to complete the awesome early morning crescendo. The main purpose of the singing is to defend territory and attract mates as the night gives way to the day, and is most audible in Spring-time when the mating season is in full swing.

Robert Capa, [Soldier of the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM) with dove, Aragón, Spain], August 1936

Although most popular in the UK, there will be hundreds of events hosted internationally in celebration of local bird populations. In the US, the Friends of Congeree Swamp organized the first Dawn Chorus in the park in 2005, and will be hosting it for the seventh time this year. Congeree Swamp is an especially good venue for the Dawn Chorus because the park (formerly Congaree Swamp National Monument) is one of the best birding places in the United States and has been officially named a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy and Birdlife International.

Insert image: Richard Tepe, Mother Feeding Her Children in Her Nest, ca. 1910–40

You can listen to the UK Dawn Chorus here.

I shall be donning my Wellington boots and venturing out on Sunday May 5th to hear the birds waking up in Norfolk, followed by a hearty breakfast (as is the tradition at these events)! You can find organized events in your area in the IDC listings here.

Weegee, [Man feeding pigeons in Washington Square Park, New York], ca. 1944

[3] http://www.nps.gov/cong/index.htm

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