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Tracking seasonal and daily onset of the avian dawn chorus across Great Britain

Friday 8 March, 18.29pm-6.45pm – Newcastle University – Ridley Building 2, room RIDB2.1.65

with Stuart Brooker

Passerines sing most intensely in the period around sunrise when together they produce the phenomenon that is the avian dawn chorus. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the existence of the chorus, but no one explanation satisfies all species and individuals. Understanding seasonal and daily variation in onset of the chorus may help shed some light. Daily onset relies heavily on light levels, and should track the rising sun across the land, but regional weather conditions are also important. However, variation in onset arising from interactions between light and weather remains little understood. To address this, I collected c.30,000 hours of recordings of the dawn chorus from 19 woodland sites throughout Great Britain, and calculated daily chorus onset times. Onset was then correlated with environmental variables recorded at each site. Here, I will present my findings, and discuss how such knowledge of the chorus may assist in interpreting the condition of bird communities and the environments within which they sing.