On Sunday May 5th 2019, it's International Dawn Chorus Day - and listeners across the globe will once more awake to the sound of bird song, thanks to a collaboration between RTÉ, EBU broadcasters and BirdLife International ornithologists!
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 Dawn Chorus programmes (which has scooped up both the Rose D'Or for European Radio Event Of The Year and national PPI Radio Award for Innovation in past years), RTÉ has once more teamed up with broadcasters and bird experts around the world, to bring listeners the exquisite sound and expert analysis of this beautiful birdsong.
On Sunday, May 5th 2019, between midnight and 7am Irish time, we will be joined by colleagues from all across the globe, to bring you a glorious array of birdsong from around the world. It's going to be an epic broadcast!
The countries who will contribute birdsong this year include:
- Northern Ireland
Each morning in May, as the first glimmer of light begins to break the darkness of the 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 countries, 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.
Male Chaffinch (photo: Michael Finn / BirdWatch Ireland)
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 will be a truly fascinating experience!
Special thanks to our conservation partners, BirdWatch Ireland and BirdLife International.
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, Mooney Goes Wild will once more broadcast that birdsong from locations right across the world in May 2019.
GUIDE TO THE DAWN CHORUS