Why Do Birds Chirp In The Morning?

The melodic tune of bird song is arguably one of the most therapeutic sounds in the world.

If you’re an early riser, your neighborhood birds probably like to sing their chorus as you wake (or even to wake you), which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how much of a morning person you are… 

So, whilst we’re hitting the snooze button, jumping out of bed, or already halfway to work, why are birds chirping?

Is it with excitement to see another day, a wake-up call to the family, or something else? 

Why do birds sing in the morning? 

Their infamous melodies sometimes start as early as 4:00 am, and can last for up to three hours – scientists have branded it ‘the dawn chorus’. And although birds sing throughout the day, the dawn chorus is particularly distinctive. It’s louder, longer, and far more melodic than your regular birdsong. But why do they do it? 

The dawn chorus is usually made up of male birds, and it’s thought to be a way for them to attract mates and protect their territories. If you’re wondering why they choose to do this at obnoxiously unsociable hours, there are a few theories… 

Photo by Imogen Warren

They’ve got nothing better to do

Yes, really. At the time of the dawn chorus, it’s often too dark outside for birds to start foraging, so they start singing instead. There’s no snooze button for these guys – once they’re up, they’re up, and they may as well make the most of their time! 

They are showcasing their strength and vitality 

Why is birdsong so much louder in the morning? It’s usually because there are no other competing sounds, like traffic or people. Some suggest that birds sing so loud in the morning because their song travels further, and they can showcase their vocalizations.

It may be a way to tell everyone who can hear that they’re alive and well, and ready to face the day. 

Photo by Chris F.


One of the most common reasons for the dawn chorus is hunger. Although most of the chorus is made up of adult males, you’ll hear plenty of babies in the mix, too.

They’re wide-eyed and ready for breakfast, and their song is a request for mum and dad to lay out the table. 

They’re protecting their family 

Another reason for the dawn chorus is that the males are protecting their families. Male birds (whatever the species), are usually extremely protective of their families and their territory.

When they start singing in the morning, it may be a way to warn predators and other birds to steer clear of their nests. 

Photo by Imogen Warren

What birds sing in the morning? 

This phenomenon is seen the whole world over, and it’s not exclusive to one species or location. Some of the most common species to partake in the dawn chorus in eastern parts of the U.S. include: 

American Goldfinch

Photo by Imogen Warren
Audio by David Liebl

American Robin

Photo by Skyler Ewing
Audio by Aidan Place
Photo by Imogen Warren
Audio by Thomas Magarian
Photo by Mohan Nannapaneni
Audio by Emily Brhel
Photo by Skyler Ewing
Audio by Paul Marvin
Photo by Imogen Warren

However, the species you hear in your local dawn chorus will depend on a few factors, including: 


Although the usual starting time is 4 am, different birds will join the chorus at different times. Larger species such as doves and blackbirds are often the first to kick off the sing-song, and smaller species will often join just before sunrise.

The timings and species may vary each morning, depending on where you live. 


Once birds have established their breeding ranges and territories, they’ll begin singing. Most species will not join the dawn chorus unless they have an established territory.

If you have long-term residents in the area, they’ll usually join in during the breeding season, or when they’re renewing their pair bonds. 

Photo by David Levinson


The dawn chorus is filled with an eclectic bunch, and the exact birds that join will vary by habitat. In urban areas, you’ll be more likely to hear blackbirds and pigeons, but in rural areas, you’ll often have a more diverse mix.

If you’re a bird fanatic, listen closely to your dawn chorus – you may be able to pick out a few species by ear! 

Where can I hear the dawn chorus? 

The dawn chorus can be heard almost anywhere. Whether you’re in the countryside or in the heart of the city, the bird song can be heard from near or far. However, any green space is going to give you the best listening experience.

So, if you want to make the most of the dawn chorus, head to your local park or green space, or even your own garden, and sit and listen! 

Photo by Chris F.

International Dawn Chorus Day 

Yes, there is such a thing! The first Sunday of May is officially known as International Dawn Chorus Day. This is a worldwide day of celebration dedicated to the greatest musical chorus in nature.

In all corners of the world, people wake at the crack of dawn to hear the sweet sound of birdsong. Whether you’re lounging around the Caribbean or in the heart of rainy England, you can wake up early and enjoy the most beautiful sounds of nature. 

How to make the most of International Dawn Chorus Day

Although you can take part in International Dawn Chorus Day from your own home, why not fully immerse yourself in the best that nature has to offer?

Here’s how you can make the most of the day: 

  • Head to your local green space
  • Pack a good pair of binoculars 
  • Fill your bag with water, snacks, and anything else you may need for your early morning trip 
  • Don’t forget your phone! If you head out at the peak of the chorus, you can film this beautiful birdsong and share it with your friends

The Bottom Line 

That infamous morning bird song, also called the dawn chorus, happens for a variety of reasons, but it’s usually adult males and babies that sing the loudest.

Whether they’re bored, hungry, showing off, or protecting their nests, the dawn chorus is one of the most beautiful sounds in nature, and you can hear it from your own home! 


What triggers the dawn chorus?

The onset of daylight is the cue for birds to start singing. However, that might be at the very hint of light on the horizon and at a time that humans may not consider to be daylight!

Why does the dawn chorus suddenly stop?

The sound of the dawn chorus is often less in the fall and winter. This is because all the rigours of courting and mating are complete and there is less reason for males to show off.

Do all birds sing in the dawn chorus?

No, it is usually the males and it is only passerines (songbirds).

Is there a ‘dusk chorus’?

Yes, although it is more subtle and gentle. Because humans are also awake, busy and making noise, it is easily missed.

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