This morning I was stirred by the chirping, chirruping and tweeting of birds around the estate. It was not the alarm clock I was expecting on a Monday morning but I spent 5 minutes enjoying the dawn chorus before hitting the snooze button on my brain and returning to my slumber.

With Valentine's day a few weeks behind me, the dawn chorus reminded me of the reason we celebrate the day with the theme of love.

An origin story

“For this was Saint Valentine’s Day.

When every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”

- Extract from Parlement of Foules by Geoffrey Chaucer – modern translation

House sparrows can be heard in the latter part of the dawn chorus. Photo credit: Ben Andrew rspb-images.com

It was in the middle ages that the association with love and birds began. Birds were seen as a symbol of romance and Valentine’s Day was considered the first day of mating season, and thus the dawn chorus, for our feathered friends.

This culturally settled in 1382 when Geoffrey Chaucer described the day as being one “when every bird cometh there to choose his mate”.

So 14th February just gone, I celebrated the birds as well as romance. Without them Valentine’s as we know it would never have existed.

The first to call

Of course, the dawn chorus doesn’t stop there. Over the coming months many songs will be heard across the UK as the dim-lit dawn breaks. But who are the early voices of spring? Here's five to get you going.

Robin

The nation's unofficial favourite is one of the earliest to start. Photo credit: Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com) 

Wren

Body mass to noise ratio, the wren is the loudest bird in the UK. Photo credit: Ben Andrew

Song thrush

Singer by name, singer by nature. Photo credit: Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)

Starling

Starting the day, clicking away. Photo credit: Ben Andrew

Blackbird

By my favourite singer, the blackbird has a big enough repertoire to have a greatest hits album! Photo credit: Ray Kennedy (rspb-images.com)

As the weeks go on, the musical notes of spring will continue with the arrival of other voices. Keep an ear out for all the songs spring has on offer and you can also find more bird song on our Bird A-Z.

Save the dawn chorus

Here are a few tips to help the dawn chorus out this spring:

  • Nurture nature during these colder weeks by making sure your garden birds are well fed
  • Pledge to keep nature's alarm clock chirping by signing up to the Let Nature Sing campaign
  • Enjoy the dawn chorus by waking up early and listening out for those beautiful songs in your garden. Or even join us on an RSPB reserve for one of our many dawn chorus events this spring

Let us know what your favourite dawn chorus singer is in the comments below.

Anonymous
Parents
  • Over the last week while we have had fantastic weather I have heard a dunnock singing from a tree in my front garden. I was convinced it must be a robin (I'm not good at bird song recognition) but it was obviously of a similar size with no redbreast and an iinsect eating beak.  

Comment
  • Over the last week while we have had fantastic weather I have heard a dunnock singing from a tree in my front garden. I was convinced it must be a robin (I'm not good at bird song recognition) but it was obviously of a similar size with no redbreast and an iinsect eating beak.  

Children
No Data