International Dawn Chorus Day 2021

Blog post by Robert Morgan on 29 Apr, 2021
Robert Morgan, NWT Reserves Officer, celebrates International Dawn Chorus Day by exploring the distinctive sounds of some of our most vocal birds.

Each year on the first Sunday of May, International Dawn Chorus day is held. This year it falls on May 2nd, so why not celebrate nature's symphony? Early risers may choose a walk to a nearby wood or park, or you could just wake at dawn and stand in your garden in pyjamas holding a cuppa, or just open your bedroom window.

Even in urban areas, before the drone of traffic drowns out the sweet sounds of the natural world, you may hear the rippling notes and whistles of the robin or the fluty verses of the blackbird. Its cousin, the song thrush, starts the dawn chorus with a loud confident tune, its verses repeated two or three times. If you are lucky you may have a blackcap's bubbly warble joining in. Then of course there is the little virtuoso wren, often being accompanied by the dunnock. With many other backing vocalists, it is well worth an early rise.

Here is a quick guide to the birds you may hear singing in your garden:


This ubiquitous and confident songster will perform from the top of a tree or rooftop. It has a rich repertoire, deep and full of whistles but melodic and mellow in tone. It is clear, loud and fluty. Many people will be familiar with its metallic pli-pli-pli alarm call when a cat gets too close.

Listen to a blackbird...



The robin's song is most people's favourite, sweet and cheery. It is higher pitched than the blackbird, but the tempo varies and can build in speed to trembling excitement. The song can vary in length but there are always pauses in between phrases.

Listen to a robin...



A very loud voice from such a small bird. The song is flurried and urgent, a short explosion of a song. It can often be seen singing low down and in the open.

Listen to a wren...



Does what it says on the tin. This small, non-descript warbler repeats its name constantly, although it is often hidden among the callow spring leaves of the trees.

Listen to a chiffchaff...


Song Thrush

This speckled breasted bird has a beautiful, varied voice. It will repeat a phrase two or three times before replacing it with a new song pattern. It can also mimic other birds and is a real joy to listen to.

Listen to a song thrush...

                                Song thrush

Great Tit

Known best for its bouncy, two syllable song of 'teacher-teacher' that sounds like a squeaky bicycle pump. But this can be a tricky character, inventing all kinds of strange whistles, warbles and phrases. If you are not sure what that strangle calling bird is, plump for great tit.

Listen to a great tit...

                                Great tit


A pleasant song that descends like a waterfall with a scratch at the end. It can be confused with a willow warbler, but it is harsher and rattles rather than warbles.

Listen to a chaffinch...


Robert Morgan is NWT ​Reserves Officer.

Header image: David Savory

Blackbird by Lydia Taylor; Robin, Song Thrush, Great Tit and Chaffinch by Elizabeth Dack; Wren by Tim Stringer; Chiffchaff by Tony Brooks
Share this

Latest Blog Posts

How to Identify Owls How to Identify Owls
by The Wildlife Trusts on 13 Jan, 2022
NWT Recommends: Holiday Reads NWT Recommends: Holiday Reads
by Emily Mildren & Susannah Armstrong (with contributions from several NWT staff!) on 17 Dec, 2021
Broadland Group's Return to Work at Upton Fen Broadland Group's Return to...
by Jerry Simpson on 09 Dec, 2021
The Queerness of Nature: In conversation with James McDermott The Queerness of Nature: In...
by Meg Watts & Molly Bernardin on 02 Dec, 2021
COP26: What's it all about and what do we want to achieve? COP26: What's it all about ...
by Kathryn Brown on 04 Nov, 2021
A New Direction: Starting Small by Creating Norfolk Wetlands A New Direction: Starting S...
by William Walker on 21 Oct, 2021
Broadland Group Moth Night Broadland Group Moth Night
by Jerry Simpson on 07 Oct, 2021
Moth and butterfly survival strategies Moth and butterfly survival...
by The Wildlife Trusts on 23 Sep, 2021
Out for Nature: Reflections on Pride with The Wildlife Trusts LGBTQ+ Employee Network Out for Nature: Reflections...
by Meg Watts on 14 Sep, 2021
Celebrating bees with our supporters, Lisa Angel Celebrating bees with our s...
by Susannah Armstrong & Lisa Angel on 09 Sep, 2021
Horsey Butterfly Walk by the Broadland Local Group Horsey Butterfly Walk by th...
by Jerry Simpson on 26 Aug, 2021
Recognising birds of prey Recognising birds of prey
by The Wildlife Trusts on 12 Aug, 2021
Cley Calling: Closer to Home Festival Review Cley Calling: Closer to Hom...
by Evie York on 29 Jul, 2021
Day Flying Moths Day Flying Moths
by Robert Morgan on 17 Jul, 2021
Bishop's Garden July Update: From Moths to Wild Flowers Bishop's Garden July Update...
by Barry Madden on 15 Jul, 2021
Swift Awareness Week Swift Awareness Week
by Sarah Gibson on 01 Jul, 2021
Exploring Living Landscapes: Finding Common Ground and connecting young people with nature Exploring Living Landscapes...
by Meg Watts on 24 Jun, 2021
A 30 Days Wild Minibeast Hunt A 30 Days Wild Minibeast Hunt
by The Wildlife Trusts on 17 Jun, 2021
Secrets of the Water Vole Secrets of the Water Vole
by Kelly Hollings on 10 Jun, 2021
Wild Gardening for Small Budgets & Spaces Wild Gardening for Small Bu...
by Meg Watts on 03 Jun, 2021
Bishop's Garden May Update: A World of Wild Flowers Bishop's Garden May Update:...
by Barry Madden on 27 May, 2021
Walking the Eastern Coast Walking the Eastern Coast
by Katy Ellis on 20 May, 2021
Good for us, Good for Nature Good for us, Good for Nature
by Robert Morgan on 13 May, 2021
Take a stroll with us for National Walking Month Take a stroll with us for N...
by Chloe Webb on 06 May, 2021