To many of us birders, the sound of birds chattering and chirping in the morning is one of the best sounds in the world. It is at once exciting and peaceful – and a delight for the ears.
How do you know which birds you’re hearing in the morning? Are some birds noisier in the mornings than other birds? What are the best ways to identify birds by their morning songs and calls?
These are great questions! To get started, let’s take a look at some of the birds you’re most likely to hear at sunrise. Keep in mind that this list is going to include birds from all over North America and beyond – you will want to pay attention to which of these birds live in your geographic area before trying to identify them.
6 North American Birds That Sing and Call in the Morning
Birds sing in the morning for a variety of reasons, including attracting mates, protecting their territory, and defending their nests and babies. If you live in the same area as any of these 6 birds, you’re likely to hear them in the morning – especially the males!
- Length: 7.9-11.0 in (20-28 cm)
- Weight: 2.7-3.0 oz (77-85 g)
- Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in (31-40 cm)
The American Robin is one of the five most common birds in North America. They live across the entire continent and year-round in most of the United States.
Males and females are grayish-brown. Males have dark, rusty-brown breasts and dark heads. Females have paler heads and more muted coloring on the rest of their bodies. Both sexes have dark eyes and black-tipped yellow bills.
Recognizing the American Robin’s Sounds
You’re most likely to hear American Robins in the spring. They string together about 10 steadily repeated whistles. Children are often taught to recognize a robin by listening for, “Cheerily, cheer up! Cheer up! Cheerily, cheer up!”
The song is much faster in the morning than it is later in the day.
In addition to the Cheer-up song, robins also make sounds like tuk, chirr, and chirp.
American Yellow Warbler
- Length: 4.7-5.1 in (12-13 cm)
- Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (9-11 g)
- Wingspan: 6.3-7.9 in (16-20 cm)
Male and female Yellow Warblers are both predominantly yellow, with the only major difference being that the male is a bit more vibrant than the female. They are small songbirds who can be found in most of North America.
During the breeding season, they live in Canada and most of the United States. They migrate through the south and southeast, spending the winter in Central and South America.
Recognizing the American Yellow Warber’s Sounds
The Yellow Warbler has both a song and a call. They are more likely to sing in the spring and summer.
The male’s song consists of between 6 and 10 whistled notes, all within just about a second. The song ends on a rising note, and is often described as sounding like, “Sweet, sweet, sweet, I’m so sweet!”
Their call, on the other hand, is a metallic-sounding series of chips. Males and females reply to one another with these calls.
- Length: 6.7-7.5 in (17-19 cm)
- Weight: 1.1-1.4 oz (30-40 g)
- Wingspan: 9.1-11.8 in (23-30 cm)
Baltimore Oriole males are orange and black. Females are yellowish-orange and gray. Their diet includes lots of fruit, so many backyard birders put jellies and fruits in dedicated oriole feeders to entice them to their yards.
Speaking of oriole feeders, check out our list of some of our favorite options on the market right now.
You won’t hear Baltimore Orioles in the western half of the US. They breed in the Midwest, Northeast, and much of the Southeast. Their winter season includes southern Florida, southern Mexico, and the Caribbean.
Recognizing the Baltimore Oriole’s Sounds
If you live in the Baltimore Oriole’s territory, you’ll hear them in the springtime. The male makes a series of paired notes that repeat between 2 and 7 times. The song lasts for a total of 1-2 seconds before pausing and repeating.
Males and females alike can chatter when they are in conflict or behaving in a territorial manner. This sound is more likely to be heard all day, unlike the morning song. They can also chuck and even scream.
- Length: 9.1-9.8 in (23-25 cm)
- Weight: 1.3-2.0 oz (38-57 g)
Though the Gartered Trogon lives in North America, you’re pretty much out of luck if you live in the US or Canada. Gartered Trogons only inhabit the southern east coast of Mexico, Central America, and the northern edges of South America.
These vibrant blue-and-yellow birds spend their time high in the canopy of the rainforest. On the underside of both the male and female’s tails, they have black and white barring.
Recognizing the Sounds of the Gartered Trogon
The Gartered Trogon’s song is lengthier than other birds. He lets out a long series of “downslurred” notes to sing, and a chattering sound for a call.
The song sounds a bit like, “Kyu-kyu-kyu-kyu-kyu-kyu.”
- Length: Up to 9 in (22.86 cm)
- Weight: 1.1 – 2.7 oz (32 – 77 g)
- Wingspan: 12.2 – 15.8 in (31 – 40 cm)
The male Red-Winged Blackbird has glossy black feathers on his wings and body, with red and yellow markings that curve along each of his shoulders. Females are dark brown, and they have white wingbars and a pale breast.
They are year-round residents in most of the United States. Canada and the northern strip of the US see them exclusively during the breeding season.
Red-Winged Blackbirds are fiercely territorial, and one reason for singing in the morning is that they can announce their presence to any other birds in the area.
Recognizing the Sounds of the Red-Winged Blackbird
Males make a sound like, “Conk-la-ree.” At only 1 second, the song is fast, with a single note followed by a trill. Females reply to the males with 3-5 notes that sound like “chit-chit-chit-chit” or “check-check-check-check.”
Red-Winged Blackbirds make their calls throughout the year, unlike birds that are noisy in the springtime and quiet for the rest of the year. When alarmed, they will intensify their call and produce it with more enthusiasm.
- Length: 5.5-6.3 in (14-16 cm)
- Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz (18-26 g)
- Wingspan: 7.9-10.2 in (20-26 cm)
What a cute little bird! The Tufted Titmouse is a lovely gray color, with peachy-orange tones showing up along the wings. Males and females look alike; they both have a cute crest atop their heads.
They are non-migratory, and their range includes the eastern half of the United States, from Maine to Florida, and just a bit west of the Mississippi River.
Recognizing the Sounds of the Tufted Titmouse
The Tufted Titmouse whistles a very clear song that sounds like “Peter, peter, peter!” They will repeat this sound up to 11 times in a row. That’s about 35 songs per minute.
You’re most likely to hear males in the morning, but females will sometimes reply with a softer version of the same song.
Morning-Singers Outside of North America
Let’s take a look at a few more birds that sing in the morning – somewhere other than North America! There are morning songbirds in Europe, Asia, Australia, and all over the world. What are you likely to hear if you are on another continent?
The Common Chiffchaff is incredibly common in Europe, Northern Africa, and parts of India and Asia.
It is a grayish-brown warbler that has a hint of yellow to its feathers. Chiffchaffs live in wooded areas, usually very close to the water’s edge.
When it sings, the Common Chiffchaff makes a high-pitched, fast-paced series of similar notes, singing, “Suit-suit-suit-suit.” Its name also comes from a part of its song, which sounds like “Chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff,chiff-chaff.”
The Song Thrush was once plentiful in Europe, but its population is declining. . Males and females are very similar in appearance, with brown backs and white bellies. They have spots on their breast that are shaped like water droplets.
Their habitat includes woodlands, parks, and farms. They always have safe cover nearby to escape into if they are startled.
They are quite vocal, which explains where they get their name! Song Thrushes repeat the same phrase over and over again. First, they will repeat one phrase three or four times. Then, a second phrase three or four more times.
Why Do Birds Sing in the Morning?
There are a number of reasons why birds sing in the morning. Naturalists and biologists may not know all of the reasons that birds sing in the morning, but we have identified several explanations for why birds tend to be so vocal in the mornings.
Attracting a Mate
When you hear the “dawn chorus,” which is what we call the symphony of bird sounds that occurs every morning, the majority of birds you’re hearing are male.
That’s because males use the early morning to demonstrate what excellent mates they would be. A weak, sickly bird cannot sing a robust, attractive song, which leaves males to show off how strong and vocal they are.
If he already has a mate, he may still sing as a way to impress her and interact with her and confirm that he is still strong and healthy.
Warning Off Predators
Some bird calls are designed to intimidate potential predators or communicate to other birds that there is a threat nearby.
For example, when a hawk is spotted nearby, Blue Jays will shriek and screech at one another, sounding the alarm. This potentially deters the hawk and successfully warns other birds in the area to be on the lookout!
Nothing Else to Do
It could be that birds sing in the morning because that’s the time of day when they have fewer available activities.
Birds wake before the sun comes up, but it’s often too early for hunting or finding food. Insects aren’t active at these early hours, and it’s too dark to find birdseed, berries, and fruit. Some researchers believe that birds sing in the morning because it’s just the perfect time of the day compared to the hours they need to spend foraging, feeding, migrating, and raising young.
Which Bird is the Loudest in the Morning?
The White Bellbird in South America is the loudest bird on record. The male’s mating call has two parts, measuring over three times the level of sound pressure. They sound like someone in the forest is banging on a piece of metal.
If you’re not in the rainforests of South America, though, then the loudest birds you’ll probably hear are the ones on this list! American Robins, American Warblers, and Red-Winged Blackbirds are among the loudest backyard birds in nature.
When is International Dawn Chorus Day – And How to Celebrate!
Did you know there is a special day honoring the incredible sounds of morning birdsong? It’s called International Dawn Chorus Day, and it’s held every year on the first Sunday of May.
Here are some ideas for how to celebrate:
- Wake up early and go outside to listen for the birds
- Make sure your window is open overnight so you can wake to the sound of the Dawn Chorus
- Make a donation to a bird sanctuary or non-profit organization that promotes the health and well-being of birds
- Share with your friends that it is International Dawn Chorus Day
A Fun Tool for Identifying Birds by Sound
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is one of the leading voices in birding. They run the All About Birds website for North American birds, as well as the eBird website for international birds.
They also have the Merlin app!
Merlin allows you to identify birds by inputting where you are and what you see or hear. There is even an “identify by sound” feature. Just take your phone or mobile device into nature with you and press record on the audio recorder when you hear an interesting bird.
The Merlin identification tool will immediately run the sound of your bird through a database of hundreds of potential matches.
It only takes a few minutes, and the accuracy is impressive!
Tomorrow Morning, Enjoy the Birds!
Tomorrow morning, I hope you take some time to enjoy the sound of the birds in your neighborhood! You never know what you’re going to hear.
Just think about it! When you are listening to the birds in the morning, you are hearing more than just a song or a call. You are listening to a large community of birds, interacting and communicating with one another. There could be dozens of conversations going on all around you, some between just a couple of birds, and some between countless birds!
Enjoy the Dawn Chorus!