***Thank-you so much to all of you who contacted us by text, tweet, e-mail and Facebook, from all across the world - we didn't get to read them all out on air, but your comments were truly appreciated by the team. And thank-you to our EBU colleagues who contributed and broadcast the Dawn Chorus, and to our BirdLife International colleagues, who brought us such wonderful birdsong across Europe!***

On Sunday May 1st 2016, Europe awoke to the sound of bird song, thanks to a collaboration between RTÉ and EBU Members.

The Dawn Chorus has become a radio phenomenon in Ireland.  Every summer, for more than two decades now, Derek Mooney and his Mooney Goes Wild team on RTÉ Radio 1 have broadcast the sounds of early morning birdsong into homes across the country.

Each morning in May, as the first glimmer of light begins to break the darkness of European skies, millions of birds begin to sing.  Each individual bird does this for two key reasons: to lay claim to a breeding territory and to attract a mate.  The birds can’t know this, but to human ears the collective effect is like nothing else in the world.

The wall of sound which the birds produce moves like a great wave across the face of the earth, just as it has done without fail for millions of years, as our planet revolves and the line of dawn shifts westwards.  It provides us with an astonishing insight into how our world functions, breathtaking and humbling in equal measure, as well as into the sheer diversity and majesty of nature.

Birds know no boundaries, and their songs have the power to connect us all in a unique way, right across the continent.  As it moves from east to west with the rising sun, the Dawn Chorus represents a genuine shared link between all of Europe’s people, transcending national borders and cultures.

People love nature, and have an intrinsic desire to feel a connection with it.  Birdwatching is the fastest-growing leisure activity in the world, and Europe alone is home to tens of millions of birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.  Europe is also home to some of the most spectacular songbirds on the planet, a part of our collective European natural heritage that we should proudly celebrate.

The feedback we receive, year after year, from Irish radio listeners has convinced us that there is indeed something very, very special about the Dawn Chorus.  It is ideally suited to radio: indeed, it’s hard to think of anything that is a more natural fit.  More than that, for thousands of people the Dawn Chorus has become a unique introduction to a wider natural world, right on their own doorsteps, of which they were previously unaware.  It is an experience to which everyone can relate and in which everyone can share.

We invited radio listeners in other countries to enjoy this amazing connection with the natural world too.  This year, for the first time in the 21-year history of Mooney Goes Wild, RTÉ was proud to announce that all of Europe can awake to the sound of this magnificent natural concert.

Thanks to our partners NRK in Norway, BBC in the UK, Radio Russia in Russia and National Public Radio in the Netherlands, Derek and his team at RTÉ brought you the full splendour of the Dawn Chorus live from right across the continent, featuring some of Europe’s finest avian performers in full voice.  Experts were on hand to explain to listeners what is happening, in real time, and to shed some light on the hidden lives of these amazing birds.  It was a truly fascinating experience.

The EBU Dawn Chorus took place on Sunday, May 1st 2016, from 00:00 - 06:00 (Irish time).

Special thanks to our conservation partners, BirdWatch Ireland.

Awards For 2016 European Dawn Chorus!


The prestigious annual Rose D'Or Awards (now in their 55th year) honour the very best of international radio, TV and online entertainment programmes, and the 2016 awards ceremony took place on Tuesday, September 13th 2016.  Over 400 programmes from more than 130 broadcasters and production companies in 33 different countries were submitted for this year’s Rose d’Or awards.  For the first time, a new competition category, 'Radio Event Of The Year' was created.  We entered European Dawn Chorus in this category, and we're absolutely delighted to let you know that ... drumroll... WE WON!!! We're absolutely thrilled to pieces, and a massive thanks to all our EBU and BirdLife International partners, we couldn't have done it without you!  Click here www.rosedor.com/news.html to read more about the 2016 Rose D'Or awards (in which legendary funnyman John Cleese picked up the Lifetime Achievement award), and click here www.rte.ie/radio1/mooney/generic/2016/0405/779666-ebu-dawn-chorus-2016/ to relive - and re-listen to - all the beautiful Dawn Chorus birdsong from right across Europe.

***STOP PRESS*** Dawn Chorus Picks Up Another Award!

We're thrilled to let you know that on Friday, October 7th, the Dawn Chorus won the Innovation Award at the PPI Radio Awards in Kilkenny!

What is the Dawn Chorus?

It is the collective sound of all the birds that sing at dawn. It usually refers to those sounds made by birds that sing during the breeding season, which for most birds in Ireland is between late March and the beginning of July. The dawn chorus is usually associated with woodland birds but it can be heard everywhere. Each habitat has its own distinctive "chorus members". 

The dawn chorus never ceases. It moves, with the early morning light, like a great wave on the face of the Earth. At this moment, somewhere in the world, the birds are waking up and bursting into song. Our ancestors, from time immemorial, awoke to this sound. Bird songs were, for countless millennia, part of everyday life. Nowadays, however, locked away in our concrete houses, few of us ever hear them.

Each year, in May, International Dawn Chorus Day seeks to remind us of the beauty of that birdsong. This year, Mooney Goes Wild broadcast that birdsong from locations right across Europe. 

Derek hosted the European Dawn Chorus programme live from Cuskinny Marsh Nature Reserve in Co. Cork, alongside Dr. Richard Collins and Jim Wilson. In a marathon broadcast, that ran right through the night, he linked up with a host of reporters in locations across Europe, from Sparrow Hills in Moscow, to Texel in The Netherlands, to Herresåsen in Norway, to Ham Wall in Somerset, England, and Tollymore in Northern Ireland.  He also checked in with reporters around Ireland, in Glenveagh National Park in Co. Donegal, to Herbert Park in Dublin, to Lough Boora Discovery Park in Co. Offaly, to Kilmacud in Dublin, and from the grounds of RTÉ in Dublin  We also took calls with representatives of BirdLife International right across Europe, as we followed the wave of light from East to West.


Click here for a podcast of the first hour, from 00:00 - 01:00 Irish time

Click here for a podcast of the second hour, from 01:00 - 02:00 Irish time

Click here for a podcast of the third hour, from 02:00 - 03:00 Irish time

Click here for a podcast of the fourth hour, from 03:00 - 04:00 Irish time

Click here for a podcast of the fifth hour, from 04:00 - 05:00 Irish time

Click here for a podcast of the sixth hour, from 05:00 - 06:00 Irish time


Locations And Broadcasters

Audio tracks from 2005 RTÉ Guide CD The Dawn Chorus

The Birds Of The Dawn Chorus

Birdsong Explained

What Are Dawn Choruses About?

Taking Part In The Dawn Chorus

Travelling Minstrels

Our Resident Singers

Identifying Birds By Sound

Where To Hear The Dawn Chorus

How To Identify The Singers & Their Songs