On Sunday May 7th 2017, Europe once more 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 spring, 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.  Following on from the huge success of the multi-award winning European Dawn Chorus programme in 2016 (scooping the Rose D'Or for European Radio Event Of The Year and national PPI Radio Award for Innovation), RTÉ once more teamed up with broadcasters and bird experts across Europe and beyond, to bring listeners the exquisite sound and expert analysis of this beautiful birdsong.

On Sunday, May 7th 2017, between midnight and 6am Irish time, we were joined by broadcasting colleagues from all over Europe, the UK and India, to bring you a glorious array of birdsong from around the world.  It really was an epic broadcast, taking listeners in three continents on a six-hour, six-time zone journey to twenty-one different locations, following the wave of light as Dawn broke, traversing every latitude and longitude from a scorching India to a chilly Iceland.

To view our Flickr gallery with all the photos leading up to, and during, the Dawn Chorus broadcast, please visit www.flickr.com/photos/131443927@N07/albums/72157683615460075.

The countries who contributed birdsong this year are:

- Ireland
- Northern Ireland
- Great Britain
- India
- Finland
- Lithuania
- Austria
- Netherlands
- Norway
- Poland
- Spain
- Iceland

For more information on all the countries and contributors taking part, click here.

Thank-you to the following broadcasters for transmitting Dawn Chorus 2017:

BELGIUM - La Premiere, RTBF
CANADA - CBC Radio 1
NORTHERN IRELAND - BBC Radio Ulster & BBC Radio Foyle
INDIA - All India Radio
LUXEMBOURG - Radio 100,7
SLOVENIA - Radio Slovenjia

A massive thank-you also to BirdLife International, BirdWatch Ireland, BirdLife Österreich, OTOP, RSPB NI & Fuglavernd for all their help and assistance with this broadcast.


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

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.

This year, we invite radio listeners in other countries to enjoy this amazing connection with the natural world too.  Thanks to our partners who will be taking part in the broadcast, Derek and his team at RTÉ will bring 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 will be 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.

Special thanks to our conservation partners, BirdWatch Ireland and BirdLife Europe.

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.  Following on from the huge success of the European Dawn Chorus last year, Mooney Goes Wild will once more broadcast that birdsong from locations right across Europe in May 2017.


Locations And Broadcasters

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

Audio tracks from 2005 RTÉ Guide CD The Dawn Chorus