Dawn Chorus at Stauffer’s Marsh

Stauffer’s Marsh Dawn Chorus. Berkeley County WV. 5 May 2009. ©Wil Hershberger.

Ah, The Dawn Chorus . . . As dawn proceeds across the valley of Back Creek, Berkeley County, West Virginia, the residents of Stauffer’s Marsh begin to stir. The eastern sky begins to brighten and the birds begin the ancient ritual of the dawn chorus. Green Frogs, Bullfrogs and Northern Cricket Frogs add a basso accompaniment to the ever changing performance.

Yellow Warblers, Yellowthroated Warblers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Warbling Vireos, Catbirds and the ever present Song Sparrow decorate the glowing eastern sky with their wonderful strains. Much has been studied regarding the dawn chorus. Researchers think that male songbirds are announcing to the world that they did indeed survive the night and are still on their territories. All of this is directed to neighboring males and females within earshot of the singer. Poets postulate that the birds are so full of joy that song just pours forth after a night of silence and repose. Whatever the reason for this phenomenon, I am certainly glad that it exists. What would a spring morning be without the marvelous cascade of notes from our songbird neighbors.

Spring is a time of renewal for the earth and for ourselves. Treat yourself to the exhilaration of the dawn chorus. Get up and outside in a quiet remote area before the sun comes up. Wait quietly, allow your thoughts to drift to the minute sounds coming from the darkness. Allow your audio perspective to expand further and further out into the landscape. As your mind clears of the day-to-day turmoil, you will begin to hear the sounds of the earth and all the creatures that we share it with. As the sky begins to brighten, the songbirds will begin to enchant you with their magic. Take it all in — the magic of the dawn chorus.


  1. I hear Song Sparrows, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Green Frogs, a Common Yellowthroats, catbirds, Northern Cricket Frogs, and a crow. I can’t tell which ones are the Yellow Warblers, Warbling Vireos, and Yellow-Throated Warblers. Is this your first blog Wil?

  2. This is so relaxing to listen to on a cold december day or any day! Thank you Wil. The map would be especially good to increase awareness of ares in need of protection and their value.

  3. Just found your web site. The dawn chorus makes me homesick for the farm I grew up on. But I still have quite a chorus to listen to in the mornings where I am now. Thank you also for your wonderful recordings with video of individual birds. I am enjoying them greatly!

  4. Love your recodings and blog posts.

    I’m fortunate to live next to a 100 ft. eucalyptus grove on one side and a live oak savannah on the other. The dawn chorus at this time of year is like an orchestra tuning before a performance. The night birds are going to bed after calling one last time(goodnight Barn Owls and Great Horned Owls), and the starlings, finches and bushtits, towhees, thrashers, flickers, titmice and robins are all shouting them down well before the sun comes over the coastal foothills.

    All this a mile or more from water. A predawn visit to the creek to hear the thrushes is in order; though they visit my garden occasionally, they rarely sing here.

  5. Will,

    Happy Earth Day!

    I close my eyes and your dawn chorus takes me from my desk to the marsh. We all need more time in these places, and I challenge everyone to listen to your lovely recording and read your personal account, then try to resist getting out there themselves. I like the addition of the map. So often we stumble across interesting places online, yet have no clue where they are. The map provides an added dimension to the experience.

    Thank you for your contributions to old-miracle.mystagingwebsite.com I look forward to visiting often to enjoy nature as presented by your team.

    I’ll be in a marsh at dawn in New York state tomorrow listening to my own dawn chorus and celebrating spring as it unfolds in the north country.

  6. Thanks Bob. I agree. I added the date to the recording data.
    What are you thoughts on the map? I added several features using google my maps to add to the visitor’s experience.

  7. Perfect! Will, your post hits just the right spot: pretty photo, succinct, personable write-up, and pleasant recording. And it leads into a whole section (yet to come) of dawn choruses from around the country. I would like to see somewhere a date (time of year) for the recording.