Birding 101: the Dawn Chorus

Dawn, Day Break, First Light. I’ve been reading these phrases my whole life. They are interchangeable and describe that hour or so of diffuse light as our place on earth rotates toward the sun, a period of increasing lightness while the sun still remains below our horizon. But it is there, the sun, and we are reminded every morning of the coming light.

During this hour, the birds start singing. It is a raucous hour of song and bird call. And it happens every day. Some mornings, depending on weather and season, the dawn chorus is almost overwhelming. This morning was like that. I’m out most mornings at dawn with our dog, Frodo, on his first walk of the day (he gets five!). The earth is sweetly scented this spring, after a winter of heavy rains. We stood on our street under the London plane, which has blown into nearly full leaf so quickly this past week, and we were enveloped by a rich tapestry of sound. Chirps, burrs, trills, rattles. The beginning phrases of song patterns. We stood very still while the birds around us resumed their business. A nesting pair carried long strands of dried grass into the tall camellias that border our yard. They worked together, one keeping watch on our roof while the other ducked into the tree with nesting material.

I purchased a Tidelog this year, which has greatly increased my knowledge and pleasure of the natural world around me. For each day, in a beautiful graphic that looks like a woodcut (seen above), it shows me times for dawn, sunrise, dusk, sunset, moonrise, moonset, high tides, ebb tides, current in my region, as well as phase of the moon, visible planets, and outstanding astronomical phenomena. Tidelog:

For the month of April, in the Bay Area, according to my Tidelog, here is the start of the Dawn Chorus, the height of which is a phenomenon you’ll have to stick around to discern:

April Day Break:

  • 1 5:56 am
  • 2 5:55 am
  • 3 5:53 am
  • 4 5:52 am
  • 5 5:50 am
  • 6 5:48 am
  • 7 5:47 am
  • 8 5:45 am — SOLAR ECLIPSE (partial in Bay Area, noon to 2:25)
  • 9 5:44 am
  • 10 5:42 am
  • 11 5:41 am
  • 12 5:39 am
  • 13 5:37 am
  • 14 5:36 am
  • 15 5:34 am
  • 16 5:33 am
  • 17 5:31 am
  • 18 5:30 am
  • 19 5:28 am
  • 20 5:27 am
  • 21 5:25 am
  • 22 5:24 am
  • 23 5:22 am
  • 24 5:21 am
  • 25 5:19 am
  • 26 5:18 am
  • 27 5:16 am
  • 28 5:15 am
  • 29 5:14 am
  • 30 5:12 am