The Dawn Chorus 2021

The Dawn Chorus 2021 took place as last year in May. It is a citizen science project and everyone can participate by recording bird songs before sunrise. Of course, I participated in the Dawn Chorus 2021 and tell you more about my observations and bird song recordings in this blog article.

The year 2020 was indeed a very extraordinary year. The coronavirus has disarranged not only my life, but also the lives of many others. We were and in part still are, respectively, forced to stay at home, reduce social contacts, and give up traveling.

Giving up traveling was especially hard for me and I had to tell myself: "Well, that's the way things are. Better times will come soon!".

I gave up long journeys. Not only last year, but also this year. Now, the whole pandemic situation has improved, however, I already know that I won't go on a long journey in 2021.

But...

Although the pandemic was not easy for most of us, this whole situation has also brought out some beautiful things. Yes, we (at least most people) were forced to slow down with our lives. But this extraordinary situation has also given rise to great ideas and new projects!

Like, for example, the citizen science project Dawn Chorus!

Before May I was already exited to participate again in the Dawn Chorus 2021. Would the Dawn Chorus 2021 take place for another year?

Yes, it would or had already taken place. And I was happy about that.

What has happened since the last Dawn Chorus in May 2020? How would this citizen science project develop? And how many people would participate in the Dawn Chorus 2021?

dawn chorus 2021

In a nutshell, some facts about the Dawn Chorus of the previous year, more than 3.500 bird song recordings were contributed to the Dawn Chorus in 2020 by citizen scientists. These bird song recordings came from 50 different countries all over the world. However, 80% of them originated in Germany. Most recordings were made anywhere in the center of a city and town, respectively.

Information: Do you want to know more about the results of the Dawn Chorus 2020? If yes, please check the project website by following this link. If you are interested to know more about the project, there is even a more detailed report about the Dawn Chorus 2020.

Especially important now is to compare the bird songs of the year 2020 with all those of the following years in order to find out more about the impacts of human-induced noise on birds. Unfortunately, it is not possible to go back in time. Thus, those involved in the project ask all participants to record bird songs at roughly the same time at the same spot for the Dawn Chorus 2021.

It is planned to conduct this citizen science project for several years in order to be able to compare the recordings of 2020 with those from "normal" years. Hopefully, this information will help to draw inferences from bird songs about biodiversity at different places.

dawn chorus 2021

One question researchers of the Dawn Chorus aim to answer is:

Is human-induced noise at weekends lower than on weekdays in comparison to spring 2020 and does this affect biodiversity? In May 2020 human-induced noise at the weekends and on weekdays were expected to have not differed as much like in the following years like 2021 and all the upcoming years. It is expected that noise like the one from a street is probably higher in 2021 on weekdays than on weekends when compared to 2020.

Therefore, every participant of the Dawn Chorus 2021, at best, records bird songs both once at the weekend and once on a weekday. If you need more information about recording bird songs, in one of my last blog articles I have already written about that.

Nevertheless, this year the people of the Dawn Chorus have furthermore developed an app. Luckily, it is still possible to upload recordings via the website. Unfortunately, I'm not able to write more about this app at the moment. I have tried to use this app on my old tablet and on my new smartphone. As the app does not work properly on both devices, I have to try it again. I hope in the near future I can tell you here more about this app.

Tip: Do you know the book "The great animal orchestra" by Bernie Krause? In this book Bernie Krause wrote about his adventures which led him all over the world to record not only bird songs, but also other animals and their habitats. Bernie Krause uses the term "soundscapes". He explored, for example, how logging changes the acoustic environment and raises the question: can e.g. bird songs indicate the loss of biodiversity?

The Dawn Chorus 2021

This year I participated twice in the Dawn Chorus 2021. That means, I went outside at dawn to record bird songs before sunrise on four days.

On the one hand I went to the Anton-Saefkow park in early May, and on the other hand, I went to the Ernst-Thälmann park in late May.

Last year I had recorded bird songs already in the Ernst-Thälmann park. Unfortunately, it was not possible for me in 2021 to go to the Ernst-Thälmann park at roughly the same date. Therefore, the dates of my bird song recordings between the Dawn Chorus 2020 and Dawn Chorus 2021 differ in the Ernst-Thälmann park.

Bird songs in the Anton-Saefkow park

Actually, this year I planned to sit anywhere on a bench in the middle of the Anton-Saefkow park. However, on my way to the park I listened to so many beautiful songs of a nightingale and some blackbirds. Thus, I changed my plan and just seated myself next to the Anton Saefkow statue which is located at the border of the park.

dawn chorus 2021

I felt like in a paradise.

This nightingale and one blackbird sang so loudly and so beautifully.

On no other day during the Dawn Chorus 2021 I could listen and record such wonderful bird songs.

These two birds just gave everything!

dawn chorus 2021

I made my first recordings on a Saturday in early May. It was still cold outside. I had no thermometer with me, however, apparently it was only about 4°C. As I needed the temperature in Berlin for the Dawn Chorus 2021, afterwards I looked up this information in the internet.

The previous day was very rainy and according to local radio news it even had snowed in some parts of Berlin.

I indeed felt the cold. I was freezing during that hour early in the morning.

The sun rose at 5:23 a.m. on that day.

When I started with my first recording at 4:52 a.m., unfortunately, the blackbird had already stopped. However, the nightingale continued with its beautiful, loud trills and whistles. In the background was another bird. It was a great tit.

In total I produced six recordings every ten minutes on that Saturday at the statue. The length of every recording was one minute.

Recording 1: 4:52 a.m.
Recording 2: 5:02 a.m.
Recording 3: 5:12 a.m.
Recording 4: 5:22 a.m.
Recording 5: 5:32 a.m.
Recording 6: 5:42 a.m.

Although it was Saturday, I heard the tram even that early in the morning.

Sometimes the nightingale was loud. In other moments the bird became quieter. And sometimes the nightingale stopped singing completely.

Then I usually would ask myself: "Where did the bird go?"

I just stayed down, because I often had already observed that nightingales stop singing when they had detected me as an observer.

Therefore, I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible.

And I was rewarded.

The nightingale had not disappeared at all.

In the middle of the third recording the nightingale stopped singing, moved from branch to branch to finally reach the ground.

dawn chorus 2021
dawn chorus 2021

Wow!

I not only could listen to a nightingale on that day, I even could observe her with my eyes.

I thought it was special, because I know how difficult it usually is to spot a nightingale at all.

Tip: If you would like to take photographs of birds, it is recommended to take a lens with a long focal length. Most birds have a long flight distance, and furthermore, are small. I photographed this nightingale with 200mm as focal length. This is short and it would have been better to photograph the nightingale with another lens.

Later a blackbird started to sing again, and luckily, I could both record its song and take a photograph.

dawn chorus 2021
dawn chorus 2021

At home I tried to identify more birds in my recordings. In total, I produced six recordings for the Dawn Chorus 2021 on a morning as mentioned above. However, between these recordings I focused on recording more bird songs, because some birds stopped singing during my 1-Minute-recordings.

I'm not a bird song specialist. Thus, in some recordings I'm not quite sure to have correctly identified a bird species. I'm still learning.

In the following recording could it be possible to hear a treecreeper?

If there is a treecreeper in the following recording, I guess to hear a short-toed treecreeper. Firstly, because short-toed treecreepers rather prefer parks than common treecreepers. And secondly, according to my perception, the call of this bird resembles in my opinion rather a short-toed treecreeper. Maybe you can help with the identification? I'm happy to read your opinion in the comments. I hear a short-toed treecreeper in the first few seconds of the next recording.

So far I have never seen a treecreeper in the Anton-Saefkow park. However, I often hear the typical sound of a short-toed treecreeper there.

Treecreepers are quite similar in their appearance, and thus, it is not always easy to distinguish between both bird species as a non-expert.

I saw the following short-toed treecreeper in the Tiergarten in Berlin. Luckily, "I" could identify this bird via the citizen science platform iNaturlist.

dawn chorus 2021

And maybe there is a crest softly singing in the background? Or is it again a great tit?

Again as a non-expert, I do have difficulties to correctly recognize all species in a recording.

However, I know that there are crests in the surroundings of the Anton-Saefkow park. A few months ago I was walking home. When I left the train station Greifswalder Straße I saw a crest lying on its back on the sidewalk. I thought it was dead. This street and its sidewalks is always very busy and crowded. But when I got on my knees and checked the bird, I saw that this crest still had its eyes open. I took the bird and I placed it upright. However, I immediately knew I couldn't leave this bird on that busy sidewalk. It did not fly away. Thus, I took it on my palm and looked for a quieter place. The crest stayed on my palm and did not move at all. Was the bird sick? Why didn't it fly away? I couldn't recognize any injury. While I was walking and thinking about my next steps to help that crest, the bird was slowly moving. And finally, it flew away!

Information: What can you do for an injured bird found on a street? After that experience I was looking for more information about what I would have needed to do in such a case. In Berlin, for example, people can bring injured wild birds to the Kleintierklinik of the FU Berlin - around the clock and without any fee. The address is: Oertzenweg 19b, 14163 Berlin. Apparently, it is possible to drop by without any previous registration by phone.

Thus, the Dawn Chorus is also a great possibility to learn more about the world of birds.

Nevertheless, just on the next Tuesday - because it was a weekday - I produced six more recordings.

There were just some slight changes.

I went to the same spot.

dawn chorus 2021

However, I arrived a few minutes earlier. Therefore, my first recording was at 4:42 a.m. Moreover, my last recording was at 5:32 a.m. (and not at 5:42 a.m. like on Saturday). I still had to go to work on that Tuesday. But still, I produced six recordings. Ideally, there wouldn't have been any differences between both days.

Again, on Tuesday the nightingale was singing very beautifully.

It might have been the same nightingale. Maybe she or he, respectively (in nightingales only males do sing), hadn't found a female yet?

Seemingly, the great tit was back as well.

I produced that recording on that Tuesday again at 4:52 a.m.

By all means, the tram was louder and running more frequently on Tuesday. At least, this was what I perceived as I didn't count the number of trams.

Bird songs in the Ernst-Thälmann park

Last year I produced all my recordings for the Dawn Chorus in the Ernst-Thälmann park. Unfortunately, I was not able to record the bird songs on roughly the same date in 2021.

Referring to the weekend, I had to postpone the day of my recordings for 14 days. Furthermore, instead of a Saturday, I made my recordings on a Sunday. During the week the day of my recordings was 9 days later, and furthermore, not on a Tuesday, but on a Friday.

Ideally, I would have recorded the bird songs in the Ernst-Thälmann park at roughly the same time. However, although the time of my recordings for the Dawn Chorus 2021 differed from the time in the previous year, I will do my best to adjust my recordings in the following years.

The sunrise in late May in 2021 was at 4:54 a.m. (on Friday) and at 4:52 a.m. (on Sunday).

It was not possible for me to record on roughly the same date, but I went to the same spot in the park.

dawn chorus 2021

Both on Friday and Sunday a grey heron visited the pond in the Ernst-Thälmann park, probably for fishing (unfortunately, it is difficult to spot the grey heron in the photograph).

Again, a blackbird got my full attention with its beautiful songs that early in the morning in the Ernst-Thälmann park.

Last year I produced a recording every 15 minutes. As I recorded the bird songs every 10 minutes at the Anton-Saefkow park, I intended to continue with this time interval and I plan to continue with it in the following years.

The first recording in the Ernst-Thälmann park was at 4:42 a.m.

Again I hear a nightingale sing. However, the nightingale was further afar on the opposite site of the pond.

In some moments the noise of the street was much louder than all the singing and calling birds. Just listen to the next recording at 4:42 a.m.

It was a cloudy Friday and the thermometer apparently did not exceed 10°C.

On the following Sunday I saw a second grey heron at the pond. Listen to the next recording and you can hear one of the grey herons calling. Again, this recording is at 4:42 a.m.

Apparently, these two grey herons travel between the Ernst-Thälmann park and the close-by Volkspark Friedrichshain. I don't know it, as I haven't directly observed them traveling between these two parks. However, it might be possible, because I often see a grey heron in one of the ponds of the Volkspark Friedrichshain.

dawn chorus 2021

Interestingly, I even saw some bats that early in the morning at the pond in the Ernst-Thälmann-Park. I couldn't hear them, but I indeed could observe them how they were moving very quickly from one side of the pond to the other side.

On the following Sunday it was definitively quieter regarding noise from the street. Furthermore, it was not cloudy, but it was chillier with only about 8°C.

However, I was especially happy to have seen some long-tailed tits on that beautiful Sunday morning. I tried to record their calls anyhow, although they were so fast and moving from one branch to another one.

Unfortunately, I was without a camera and I could not take photographs of them. Therefore, here I can show you "only" a photograph of a long-tailed tit I took in winter in the Tiergarten in Berlin.

dawn chorus 2021

Again I was happy to have participated at the Dawn Chorus 2021 and I hope there will be a next Dawn Chorus in 2022.

More information and links

Blog articles about citizen science projects:

The Dawn Chorus citizen science project

Bird count 2021 - "Stunde der Wintervögel" in Germany

Bird count 2021 - "Stunde der Gartenvögel" in Germany

Official website:

Link to the official website of the Dawn Chorus

dawn chorus 2021
dawn chorus 2021

Have you participated in the Dawn Chorus 2021? If yes, where? And which birds could you hear?

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