Starting as a small event in Birmingham in the 1980s, people in over eighty countries worldwide now celebrate International Dawn Chorus Day on the first Sunday in May, including many Westmorland Gazette readers and Oasis visitors.

You don’t need to be surrounded by countryside; city birdsong includes robins, blackbirds, sparrows, even pigeons and seagulls.

This brings me to the elephant-bird in the room: not everyone likes birdsong.

For some people loud spring birdsong isn’t always welcome, when you’re dying for a rare lie-in.

And not all birds are melodic, like the aforementioned shrieking herring gulls, bane of many an echoing chimney-pot.

The impressive bony bill of the zoo’s hornbills creates a piercing shriek that’s somewhat grating when you’ve not yet had your coffee.

It’s also pretty obvious where the white-faced whistling duck gets its name, visually and audibly- not very restful at 5am.

But we keepers and visitors alike love hearing exotic birdsong mixed with our native dawn chorus, like the chips, tweets and trills of our brightly coloured superb starling, or the Java sparrows, whose beak clicks cleverly provide percussion accompaniment to its own song.

I always smile at our violet turaco, which can produce a sound halfway between a turkey gobble and a dog bark.

Our black curassow intersperses whistling with an impressively deep, rasping ‘booming’ mating call, which many visitors can’t believe comes out of a bird.

The main drivers behind the spring dawn chorus are marking territory and attracting a mate. Imagine you’re a male willow warbler, who has flown 2,400 miles from Africa, and seeking a mate quickly.

But home is thick woodland and you’re the colour of leaves! Luckily, your clear, loud and recognisable song is perfect for advertising your vigour to passing females and warning off other males.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear nature’s symphony, including the wonderful waders we’re fortunate enough to have locally, like lapwings and the haunting curlew.

The birds don’t know or care that International Dawn Chorus Day was last weekend; they’ll be lifting their voices tomorrow morning. You only need to open your window and listen.