Get your ear in

Robin: going for a song

Birds bring a wonderful soundtrack to spring, and even in towns and cities the array of voices can be quite dazzling. If you are trying to develop your skills in identifying bird songs, you are best off initially trying to familiarise yourself with a few of the more frequent songsters. In early spring, four of the key species to listen out for are Robin, Song Thrush, Great Tit and Dunnock.


A Robin's song is wistful and dreamy. The voice is rounded in tone and varies in pace from slower contemplative whistles to faster, louder notes. Phrases are rarely repeated. Robins can often be heard singing at night in urban areas.

European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) Song - Listen here

Song Thrush

Song consists of crisp riffs (that usually contain several staccato notes) that are repeated two to four times over. Singers often position themselves high up in trees, and the song is frequently loud and has many notes that are rich in tone. As a consequence, a Song Thrush can be heard at considerable distances. Song often noticeable at dusk as well as dawn - few birds will singer later in the day.

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) Song - Listen here

Great Tit

This species, the largest of our tits, has a substantial vocal repertoire. However, the classic Great Tit song to listen out for at this time of year is a bell-like ‘tea-cher, tea-cher’. Great Tit song always consists of simple riffs.

Great Tit (Parus major newtoni) male, song - Listen here


The song of the Dunnock is a hidden treasure. Look out for this small, brown and grey bird poking its head through leafing shrubs to deliver its quick, delicate, scratchy chorus. Song is thinner and more direct/less dreamy than Robin.

Dunnock (Prunella modularis) song - Listen here

Want to develop your bird ID skills? Take a look at our Training Courses.

Also see our bird ID videos, including this one about night singers.

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