Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Dawn Solo/Chorus

  • Jennifer R. FooteEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1659-1



The dawn chorus is a period of vocalization that occurs during twilight before the sun rises.


The dawn chorus is a prominent acoustic display that begins during the twilight period characterized by a high rate of vocalization by many species. Whereas the most studied species are birds, mammals, insects, and anurans also may chorus at dawn. The focus of the entry is on birds with a summary of other species at the end. The order in which participating species begin to chorus is predictable. In resident species, the dawn chorus may occur year-round, whereas, in migratory species, the dawn chorus begins within the first weeks following arrival on the breeding grounds.

Research on the Dawn Chorus

Due to the striking nature of the cacophony of chorusing species at daybreak, the dawn chorus has been described historically for its beauty. Research on the dawn chorus began in earnest in the 1900s with efforts to characterize the timing...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Amrhein, V., & Erne, N. (2006). Dawn singing reflects past territorial challenges in the winter wren. Animal Behaviour, 71(5), 1075–1080.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amrhein, V., Kunc, H. P., & Naguib, M. (2004). Non–territorial nightingales prospect territories during the dawn chorus. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 271(Suppl 4), S167–S169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arroyo-Solís, A., Castillo, J. M., Figueroa, E., López-Sánchez, J. L., & Slabbekoorn, H. (2013). Experimental evidence for an impact of anthropogenic noise on dawn chorus timing in urban birds. Journal of Avian Biology, 44(3), 288–296.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-048X.2012.05796.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brown, R. G. B. (1963). The behaviour of the willow warbler Phylloscopus trochilus in continuous daylight. Ibis, 105(1), 63–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bruni, A., & Foote, J. R. (2014). Dawn singing of eastern phoebes varies with breeding stage and brood number. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 126(3), 500–507.  https://doi.org/10.1676/13-175.1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bruni, A., Mennill, D. J., & Foote, J. R. (2014). Dawn chorus start time variation in a temperate bird community: Relationships with seasonality, weather, and ambient light. Journal of Ornithology, 155(4), 877–890.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cuthill, I. C., & Macdonald, W. A. (1990). Experimental manipulation of the dawn and dusk chorus in the blackbird Turdus merula. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 26(3), 209–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Double, M., & Cockburn, A. (2000). Pre–dawn infidelity: Females control extra-pair mating in superb fairy–wrens. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 267(1442), 465–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Foerster, K., Poesel, A., Kunc, H., & Kempenaers, B. (2002). The natural plasma testosterone profile of male blue tits during the breeding season and its relation to song output. Journal of Avian Biology, 33(3), 269–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Foote, J. R., Fitzsimmons, L. P., Mennill, D. J., & Ratcliffe, L. M. (2010). Black-capped chickadee dawn choruses are interactive communication networks. Behaviour, 147(10), 1219–1248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Foote, J. R., Fitzsimmons, L. P., Mennill, D. J., & Ratcliffe, L. M. (2011). Male black-capped chickadees begin dawn chorusing earlier in response to simulated territorial insertions. Animal Behaviour, 81(4), 871–877.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Goodson, J. L. (1998). Territorial aggression and dawn song are modulated by septal vasotocin and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide in male field sparrows (Spizella pusilla). Hormones and Behavior, 34(1), 67–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Henwood, K., & Fabrick, A. (1979). A quantitative analysis of the dawn chorus: Temporal selection for communicatory optimization. The American Naturalist, 114(2), 260–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hoeschele, M., Moscicki, M. K., Otter, K. A., van Oort, H., Fort, K. T., et al. (2010). Dominance signalled in an acoustic ornament. Animal Behaviour, 79(3), 657–664.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hutchinson, J. M. (2002). Two explanations of the dawn chorus compared: How monotonically changing light levels favour a short break from singing. Animal Behaviour, 64(4), 527–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kacelnik, A. (1979). The foraging efficiency of great tits (Parus major L.) in relation to light intensity. Animal Behaviour, 27, 237–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kempenaers, B., Verheyen, G. R., & Dhondi, A. A. (1997). Extrapair paternity in the blue tit (Parus caeruleus): Female choice, male charateristics, and offspring quality. Behavioral Ecology, 8(5), 481–492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kunc, H. P., Amrhein, V., & Naguib, M. (2005). Seasonal variation in dawn song characteristics in the common nightingale. Animal Behaviour, 70(6), 1265–1271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Leopold, A., & Eynon, A. E. (1961). Avian daybreak and evening song in relation to time and light intensity. The Condor, 63(4), 269–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Liu, W.-C. (2004). The effect of neighbours and females on dawn and daytime singing behaviours by male chipping sparrows. Animal Behaviour, 68(1), 39–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McNamara, J.M., Mace, R.H., & Houston, A.I. (1987). Optimal daily routines of singing and foraging in a bird singing to attract a mate. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 20(6), 399–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Murphy, M. T., Sexton, K., Dolan, A. C., & Redmond, L. J. (2008). Dawn song of the eastern kingbird: An honest signal of male quality? Animal Behaviour, 75(3), 1075–1084.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Otter, K., & Ratcliffe, L. (1993). Changes in singing behavior of male black-capped chickadees (Parus atricapillus) following mate removal. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 33(6), 409–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Poesel, A., Dabelsteen, T., & Pedersen, S. B. (2004). Dawn song of male blue tits as a predictor of competitiveness in midmorning singing interactions. Acta Ethologica, 6(2), 65–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Popp, J. W., Ficken, R. W., & Reinartz, J. A. (1985). Short-term temporal avoidance of interspecific acoustic interference among forest birds. The Auk, 102, 744–748.Google Scholar
  26. Roth, T., Sprau, P., Schmidt, R., Naguib, M., & Amrhein, V. (2009). Sex-specific timing of mate searching and territory prospecting in the nightingale: nocturnal life of females. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 276, 2045–2050.  https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2008.1726.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Staicer, C.A., Spector, D.A., & Horn, A.G. (1996). The dawn chorus and other diel patterns in acoustic signaling. In Ecology and Evolution of Acoustic Communication in Birds [Kroodsma D.E., & Miller E.H., eds.]. pp.426–453. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.Google Scholar
  28. Stewart, M. M., & Rand, A. S. (1991). Vocalizations and the defense of retreat sites by male and female frogs, Eleutherodactylus coqui. Copeia, 1991, 1013–1024.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sueur, J. (2002). Cicada acoustic communication: Potential sound partitioning in a multispecies community from Mexico (Hemiptera: Cicadomorpha: Cicadidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 75(3), 379–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Thomas, R. J., Széskely, T., Cuthill, I. C., Harper, D. G., Newson, S. E., et al. (2002). Eye size in birds and the timing of song at dawn. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 269(1493), 831–837.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Tobias, J. A., Planqué, R., Cram, D. L., & Seddon, N. (2014). Species interactions and the structure of complex communication networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(3), 1020–1025.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. van Duyse, E. (2004). Testosterone, male reproductive behaviour and fitness in the great tit (Parus major) PhD Dissertation. Universiteit Antwerpen, Faculteit Wetenschappen, Departement Biologie.Google Scholar
  33. Van Oort, H., Otter, K. A., Fort, K. T., & Holschuh, C. I. (2006). Habitat quality, social dominance and dawn chorus song output in black-capped chickadees. Ethology, 112(8), 772–778.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0310.2006.01228.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Whitten, A. J. (1982). The ecology of singing in Kloss gibbons (Hylobates klossii) on Siberut Island, Indonesia. International Journal of Primatology, 3(1), 33–51.  https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02693489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Xia, C., Wei, C., Lloyd, H., Liu, J., Wu, Q., et al. (2014). Dawn singing intensity of the male brownish-flanked bush warbler: Effects of territorial insertions and number of neighbors. Ethology, 120(4), 324–330.  https://doi.org/10.1111/eth.12205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyAlgoma UniversitySault Ste. MarieCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Shannon Digweed
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMacEwan UniversityEdmontonCanada