New Perspectives: Why do Birds Sing at Dawn? – by Rev. Heather McCarrel

Photo by Andy Holms/Unsplash

Some scientists have concluded that it is male birds who sing in the morning as a way of marking their territory and to announce their mating call.  Other scientists argue that both female and male birds fill the sunrise with song because they are simply announcing the good news that they have woke to another day; they are sharing this news with their mates.  And, there are those who claim that in the midst of the hot and humid summer months, when morning birdsong is at its loudest, it is because of the coolness of the morning and birds take advantage of these cooler temperatures to make their presence known.

The poets have claimed that birdsong is nature’s poetry that is ruined once we try to capture and dissect it.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “You must hear the birdsong without attempting to render it into nouns and verbs.”

The birds may never give up their secret for why they fill dawn with song and poetry but that is okay.  As I get older I am becoming increasingly comfortable with the not knowing.  I do not need to know why they sing, I am just grateful they do.

Since day light savings time has begun, when we turned our clocks ahead one hour, Abby (my canine sidekick) and I routinely go out to the back deck just before dawn.   Some days, with a jacket pulled over my bathrobe, we take in the slowly growing chorus.  It begins each morning with the same bird and soon following his deep melody others join in.  At this time of year the choir isn’t big but we know it will grow steadily over the next few weeks.

I am grateful for their trusted call each morning. Whether it be rain, snow or fog they raise their tiny voices in song and inspire me to do the same.  Despite waking to horrible news from Ukraine, or a discouraging snow fall through the night their song calls me to rise up and celebrate yet another day.

As Maya Angelou wrote, “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.”  May this song inspire us towards brighter and warmer days that lie ahead.