At this time of year we can enjoy one of nature's miracles every morning: the finest sopranos, tenors and baritones warming up their voices for the greatest concert on earth - the dawn chorus.
RSPB NI has outlined 'who's who' in the choir so you can learn to identify the singers which make their homes on your patch.
Act one: robins and dunnocks
Act two: blackbirds, song thrushes and skylarks
Act three: chiffchaff, chaffinch, wood pigeon, and collared dove
Act four: blue tits, long tailed tit, great tit, goldcrest and tree sparrows
Dunnocks and robins are among the earliest to warm up: to hear the first act you'll need to be in the stalls early as they start to sing about an hour before sunrise.
Blackbirds and song thrushes come hot their heels, probably because the ground is wetter in the morning so worms are more active and the ground is softer.
Finally, contributing to the crescendo, wrens, tits and warblers come in, with the tiny call of the goldcrest on the stage too. These later arrivals to the choral scene eat insects and are perhaps more sensitive to the coldness of dawn.
Unbeknown to many there is also an evening performance, with a chorus at dusk, but it's much quieter, and it's easier to hear birds like blue tits and tree sparrows. They sing in the morning too, but we are less likely to notice them among the cacophony!
Claire Barnett from RSPB NI explains; "The dawn chorus may sound like a frantic shouting match with the most beautiful voices but actually the singers know exactly when their slot is and if you listen regularly you will start to recognise certain species habitually starting before others.
"If you don't know what those species are now it's your chance to learn even just a couple of them - it's still the most melodic, clever, natural piece of audio entertainment you'll hear and best of all, it happens every day!
"The louder your dawn chorus the more proud you can be of your efforts to give nature a home too. If you're providing food, water and shelter, it is bound to make their voices as strong as possible!"
Birds sing so loudly at dawn because it's not a good time to go foraging for food so they focus their efforts at the start of the day on trying to attract a mate instead, it is also a good time to hold a territory. With less background noise early on, their song can carry up to twenty times as far.
Singing is hard work, so it is usually the fittest, best fed males who sing the loudest. In many cases, once a female has been serenaded the male will sing less often as his work is done.
We can all provide a place for wildlife in your own garden and hear birds singing close up. To find out how you can give nature a home where you live visit: rspb.org.uk/home
Last Updated: Monday 10 January 2022