Hear Hawaiian Songbirds Start the Day with a Dawn Chorus

An 'apapane, a species endemic to Hawai'i, is one of the birds signing in the dawn chorus recording. (Photo by Douglas Walch/National Geographic Your Shot)

By Amy Werner

Each morning those of us who rise after the sun are missing a free daily performance, known as the dawn chorus, sung by early rising avian vocalists in our own backyards.

An ‘apapane, a species endemic to Hawai’i, is one of the bird species heard singing in the dawn chorus recording. (Photo by Douglas Walch/National Geographic Your Shot)

Dr. Jacob Job works in the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division of the National Park Service and as a research associate at Colorado State University. At BioBlitz 2015, tucked away in the middle of a tropical rainforest as the sun began to rise, he recorded a dawn chorus in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Job was one of the 170 scientists that joined thousands of students and participants in May at the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Parks BioBlitz, the ninth in a series of 10 annual BioBlitzes hosted by the National Geographic Society and the National Park Service leading up to the National Park Service centennial in 2016.

Just as sight can be inhibited by clouds or fog, hearing can be inhibited by noise pollution or the reluctance to be still and listen. The audio snapshots Job collects are a reminder that nature can be heard as well as seen. Job says the more you listen, the more you will hear, and if you get up early enough, this includes the birdsongs of the dawn chorus.

What is the objective of birds in the dawn chorus, is it to achieve something or a form of communication?

When we are talking about the dawn chorus we are talking about songbirds. Most people are under the assumption that birds sing to attract a mate and that’s only part of the story. The main reason these males are singing is —> Read More