One of Mother Nature’s most exquisite concerts is the dawn chorus. This event takes place across the state each day throughout the spring. In spite of the fact it can be heard in rural areas, suburban neighborhoods and cities alike, it remains largely unappreciated.
This is due in large part to the fact it is staged when many of us are still in bed. The event can begin as early as 4:00 a.m. and is largely over by the time the sun peeks above the horizon.
During this magical time of day, the air is awash with bird songs. In fact, in many locations, so many birds will be calling it is difficult to tell one songster from another.
The music is created almost exclusively by the males of scores of songbirds including the likes of American robins, mockingbirds, brown thrashers, vireos, wrens, bluebirds, wood pewees, wood thrushes and many more.
While their songs vary widely, they are all singing for the same purpose. They are putting all other males of their species on notice that they have set up a breeding territory in that locale and they had better not even think about entering their realm and try to steal their mates.
Females, on the other hand, are intently listening to the males’ songs. It seems they are attracted to the males displaying the finest, loudest, and most energetic vocalizations.
If you have the desire to be in the audience for a dawn chorus, you have to forgo some sleep and be sitting in a lawn chair in your backyard well before daylight. If you get up early enough, you will hear the open volley of sound made by just a few birds. However, as dawn approaches more and more birds will begin calling. Once this loud crescendo of sound reaches its peak, the symphony will begin to fade. By dawn, you will hear nothing more than a smidgeon of the birds you heard an hour or so before.
Of course, the numbers of birds contributing to the dawn chorus will vary widely from place to place. For example, if you reside in a rural area, chances are you will hear more birds than you will in a subdivision. However, regardless of where you live you will hear more birds than you probably ever imagined live close by.
This fact was borne out recently on a visit to my daughter’s home. She lives in a large subdivision near Augusta. During the day, I typically hear a half a dozen or so birds calling around her home. However, recently one morning I got up around 5:00 a.m. and stood on her front porch for a few minutes. As soon as the front door closed behind me, I was immediately amazed by how many birds I was hearing. One of the principal species singing was the American robin. Robins seemed to be calling from everywhere. There seemed to be dozens of robins within earshot. However, by the time the school bus was pulling into the neighborhood, things had returned to normal and the songsters were engaged in their normal daily routines.
Here are a couple of things to listen for if you are in the audience for more than one spring chorus.
The participants in the spring chorus will change throughout the spring. Early on, the songsters will be resident birds. As spring moves toward summer, they will be joined by Neotropical migrants.
In addition, if you find your seat well before the concert begins, you will note different species will pipe in earlier than other species.
Believe me; all it takes is being in the audience for one dawn chorus to realize it is truly a musical extravaganza.