Why do birds sing in the morning?

Ever since we moved to Ethiopia I have become a bird enthusiast. Lately I learned that a lion’s share of all tourists that enter the country are either ornitologists or bird lovers. I don’t question that notion at all. There are so many beautiful, endemic birds in Ethiopia.

Out of the 835 bird species known in Ethiopia 23 are endemic, meaning these birds cannot be found outside the borders of this country.

A bird called ruppell’s robin chat resides outside our bedroom window and consistently starts its beautiful, melodic singing around 5:30 in the morning. No exceptions. This beautiful bird competes with the local church singers who also start at that time or earlier.

Why does the ruppell’s robin chat, or in general birds sing in the morning?

According to scientists the dawn chorus of birds, often taking place as early as 4 am, is louder and livelier than birdsong at any other time of the day.

The dawn singers are usually males luring mates or desperately singing their enemies away; here’s my song, do take note that this is my territory, la la la laaa.

One theory is that dawn is a perfect time to sing since it is too dark for birds to do any foraging.

Another theory is that since singing is such an essential part of a bird’s life, singing as a first act in the morning signals to others that this bird one is a strong one, this one is a keeper!

The early singing is like communicating to other birds: Look at me! I survived the night! I am a good companion! I am still aware that this is my territory!

Research shows that birdsong in the morning is clearer and more consistent than during other times.

So there you go.

There is always a reason for everything in nature.

Here are some bird personalities I’ve gotten to know in Ethiopia.

The thick billed raven aka 'I've lived longer than you, your mother and your grandmother combined' Photo: Atte Penttilä
The thick billed raven aka ‘I’ve lived longer than you, your mother and your grandmother combined’
Photo: Atte Penttilä
The Marabou Stork aka 'We believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder' Photo: Atte Penttilä
The Marabou Stork aka ‘We believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder’
Photo: Atte Penttilä
The Kingfisher aka 'I won't tell you my fishing secrets'
The Kingfisher aka ‘I won’t tell you my fishing secrets’

8 thoughts on “Why do birds sing in the morning?

      1. Yes! Always sunshine. Now it’s wintertime which means temperatures smaller than 30 celcius. 🙂

  1. Hello, Laura. I could not sleep due to pain (diabetic neuropathy and degenerative bone disease) and I heard a bird singing outside my window at 5:30 am. I was curious as to which type it was and I saw your post. It’s good to know there is someone on the other side of our planet hearing birds too. 😉 Greetings from a Greek-American in North Carolina. And to the nightingale outside my window every Spring, sing on my friend.

    1. Hi Margaret,

      I am so happy you found my blog! Sorry to hear about your sleeping difficulties. It is so frustrating not being able to sleep well. The same bird still wakes me up every day, he is very precise! I have grown to love it.
      Greetings back and hope you feel better!

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