The dawn chorus and a stack…

by Sunita on May 2, 2008

Isn’t it nice to wake up to the singing of birds. Well, for the last few days, we’ve been waking up to the most sweet singing of the birds at dawn. Dawn, that little divide between the morning and night, when the world has not yet woken up….when the hustle and bustle of daily life has still got a few moments to start. You open your eyes, and, in your still half – sleepy state, your ears are greeted by the sweet singing of the blackbird or the robin or the nightingale or the thrush, to name a few… now, that is pure bliss. And that is what we’ve been experiencing, especially in the last couple of days. This dawn chorus, as it is called, especially in our local woodland, fresh water marsh or grassland, the passerines – or song birds – are living up to their name.

What is the dawn chorus?

Right now, between sunrise and mid-morning, wrens, robins, thrushes and blackbirds (to name but a few) are singing. In your local woodland, fresh water marsh or grassland, the passerines – or song birds – are living up to their name. But why, and what, are they singing?

In general, only the male songbird sings and he is communicating one of two messages – ‘go away!’ or ‘come here!’.

Go away!

Bird singingIn order to attract a female to mate with him, a male bird has to obtain and defend a territory. This territory will help determine his breeding success by providing him, and his mate, with food. Males claim a territory by singing in it, which tells other males to stay away. They leave gaps in their song to listen to replies, so they can discover where any rivals are and focus their defensive efforts on strangers looking to take over the territory. Some species, such as great tits and chaffinches, have a large repertoire of choruses to convince other males that there are a number of birds in the area and that all the territory is spoken for.

Come here!

The second reason for the dawn chorus is to advertise for a mate. When doing this, males sing songs that are longer and more complex than the repetitive ones used for territorial defence. Singing is an honest indication to a female of the males quality and fitness because it is an energy intensive activity. If a male has the excess energy to sing a long, loud, complicated song after a night without food, he must be a good, strong forager and live in a productive territory. This is what the females want. A weak, hungry bird will not have the energy to sing such an impressive song. More on the dawn chorus here.

The international dawn chorus day falls on the 4th of May. All around the globe people will be rising early to greet the rising sun and enjoy nature’s daily miracle. Events are organised by local bird and wildlife conservation groups…more info here…check it out…there could be an event near you.

And if the idea of going for a walk in the wee hours does not appeal to you , you can still tune in to the dawn chorus without leaving your bedroom, as we’ve been doing for the last few days…set your alarm very early, about 4 am and open the windows a crack(or open wide,if the weather’s warm) and enjoy the chorus from the comfort of your bed!

After such a sweet start to the day, let’s head back to the kitchen and see what’s in store. I made these potato-cream cheese-methi (fenugreek) parathas (quite a mouthful, eh?) the other day, which we quite liked and so, am sharing with you .

The main ingredients , I must admit, were all leftovers…the cream cheese from here, the methi, from here and the potatoes were the last ones left, and which were ready to sprout any minute! But they all bonded together very nicely with the flour and we enjoyed these soft parathas for dinner. Without more ado, let me cite the recipe…so here goes…

What’s needed-

4 small potatoes,boiled and peeled
2 c finely chopped fenugreek/methi leaves
5 tblsp of cream cheese
1 and 1/2 tblsp salt
3 tblsp oil
2 and 1/2 to 3 C wheat flour

How to-

  1. Beat together the potatoes and the cheese till smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the fenugreek leaves, flour, salt and oil and mix to form a dough ( it will be quite sticky)
  3. Knead the dough for a few minutes…a floured worktop and floured hands should help.
  4. Divide the dough into 15-16 portions (shape into balls and slightly flatten them, I did not make them too big) and roll out into discs of about a mm in thickness (note, roll the balls of dough in flour and also the rolling pin to avoid sticking to it) .
  5. Heat and grease( a non stick spray works great) a pan over medium heat and place a rolled paratha on it.
  6. Cook for about 11-12 seconds on each side and again for about 4-5 seconds on each side, or till dark brown spots begin to appear.
  7. Repeat for all the reast of the balls of dough and wrap in foil , if, for later use.

That’s it! We have developed quite a fondness for these soft parathas and wouldn’t mind making them again and again :-) These parathas, accompanied by a dal and some homemade mango pickle ( courtesy: my aunt, all the way from India) were a nice and complete meal, and we rose from the table, quite happy with what we’ve just savoured :-)

Just to let you know that this month’s Think spice is being hosted at Easy crafts and she has chosen cardamom as the spice for this month. So during the month of May, Think spice-think cardamom. Click on the logo in my sidebar for the rules. Check out the round up of last month’s Think spice…think cloves here.

Here’s to a great weekend, wakened each morning by sweet chirpings :-)

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 indosungod May 2, 2008 at 11:36 am

Woke up to their chorus at around 4.00AM wondering if it is already time to wake up! Those parathas look lovely. Did you have them for breakfast with the chorus :)


2 sunita May 2, 2008 at 11:45 am

Isg, that was quick!Isn’t it lovely to wake up to it…and no, we had the parathas for dinner instead :-)


3 Sagari May 2, 2008 at 12:28 pm

parathas look veryy soft sunitha ,adding cream cheese is a great idea


4 t May 2, 2008 at 12:38 pm

Goodness, every time I come to your blog I’m struck by the beauty of both your words and your blog design (doesn’t show up quite on my feed reader!). Yesterday I heard the birds for the first time, and was very pleased at the sound. Finally, spring!


5 Susan from Food Blogga May 2, 2008 at 12:39 pm

The first apartment we lived in had an enormous tree outside of our bedroom window, and we would wake every morning to the chorus of birds. How I miss that. Lovely post and most lovely breakfast, Sunita. Thank you.


6 Asha May 2, 2008 at 12:55 pm

Every day in Spring and Summer, I hear the birds chirping and red Cardinals and Blue Jays flitting around.I love every minute of the early morning. Beautiful with yummy food. My “to try” list is growing by the minute!:D

Have a great weekend, see you Monday!:)


7 Rachel May 2, 2008 at 1:44 pm

Wow the parathas looks so soft and with cream cheese and the remaining fillings…must have tasted heavenly…Slurrpp!!!


8 Jules May 2, 2008 at 4:00 pm

On the morning of my wedding last year I woke at 4am to hear the most amazing and beautiful dawn chorus I have ever heard.

Your parathas look delicious.


9 Mona May 2, 2008 at 9:35 pm

I have a big cherry tree outside my bedroom window too, and I get up each day listening to the beautiful song of so many birds. I feel am lucky!
The parathas look so good, they have all the goodness in it :-) Will try them for sure!


10 Coffee & Vanilla May 2, 2008 at 10:17 pm

Sunita, it looks delicious. I made rotis few times now from Cythia’s of ~Tastes Like Home~ recipe… they are very similar to your parathas.

Have a nice day, Margot


11 farida May 3, 2008 at 4:50 am

Looking at these pictures make me hungry, and it is way past the dinner time. what a great recipe and you make it really appealing with these stunning photographs you take.


12 zlamushka May 3, 2008 at 5:10 am

Gosh, this looks heavenly good :-)
Sunita, I am so amazed always by your foodography and colorfulness of your recipes. Would you like to be cooked from, btw?


13 vegeyum May 3, 2008 at 1:22 pm

I love the dawn chorus. It is a wonderful thing. Here, it goes on for some hours as the parrots come in to feed about 9 am and chatter away while doing so.

I also love your parathas. They look so yummy.


14 jj May 3, 2008 at 2:12 pm

The parathas look wonderful – great pictures, too.

Love hearing the birds chirping but haven’t had quite enough just yet as spring just doesn’t want to get into gear where I am. HOpefully soon.


15 Rajitha May 3, 2008 at 2:36 pm

the dude birds do have a lot of work cut out for them ;)

and coming to the paranthas..why oh! why am i not ur neighbour :(


16 Sandeepa May 3, 2008 at 4:54 pm

That was a neat piece of info, shall open the window early morn tomorrow, though I am a late riser on weekends ;-)

The parathas look soft and yummy


17 Sig May 3, 2008 at 6:01 pm

4 am… :) I am never awake at that time… also I live in the city, not many trees around, so I don’t even know if there are birds around :( But you are tempting me to keep the alarm for 4 am.. :)
Lovely parathas, hope you are having a great weekend!


18 Laurie May 3, 2008 at 6:01 pm

Sunita, thank you for the link to the international dawn chorus day web site. Unfortunately there is no dawn chorus group in Ca. USA, but my family and I will be looking forward to greeting in the morning listening to the songs of our local birds. As I type this I am enjoying the serenade in my garden. “Awesome”!
And your paratha’s look so tastey! :)


19 festplatte retten May 3, 2008 at 8:29 pm

I think its matter of joy Isn’t to wake up to the singing of birds.I like it very much.I want to wake up daily by hearing the singing of birds.


20 sunita May 4, 2008 at 11:02 am

thanks…we did love them :-)

Thanks fore your kind words…and yes, the song of the birds is very enjoyable, isn’t it :-)


21 sunita May 4, 2008 at 11:04 am

The birds sing on the trees outside our bedroom window…sure nice to wake up to their singing :-)

Yes, the freshness and serenity of the early morning is worth waking up at that hour :-)


22 sunita May 4, 2008 at 11:06 am

rachel, thanks…we did enjoy the paraths :-)

That must have been such a lovely way to start a new chapter in your life :-)


23 sunita May 4, 2008 at 11:07 am

You should feel lucky…it’s wonderful to wake up to it :-) …do give the parathas a try :-)

thanks…yes, they are a bit similar :-)


24 Shilpa May 4, 2008 at 6:56 pm

Wow…those parathas look yummy. I haven’t tried methi and potato combo parathas yet. Will have to do soon.


25 sunita May 4, 2008 at 11:32 pm

thanks…glad you like my work…

thanks dearie…I wouldn’t mind being cooked from at all :-)


26 sunita May 4, 2008 at 11:35 pm

The dawn chorus is indeed so wonderful…glad you like the parathas :-)

Hope you’ll get to hear more of the dawn chorus very soon :-)


27 sunita May 4, 2008 at 11:37 pm

they have indeed…btw,I would love to have you as my neighbour…anytime :-) )

You’re most welcome…do give it a try :-)


28 sunita May 4, 2008 at 11:40 pm

I understand…actually we live a bit on th eoutskirts and there are quite a lot of trees around…but then, you never know :-)

we haven’t been able to join in any event either due to other engagements, but we do make it a point to open the windows early to catch the sing song :-)


29 sunita May 4, 2008 at 11:41 pm

festplatte retten,
yes, it is indeed a joy to awaken to the song of birds :-)

thanks…do give them a try…hope you like them :-)


30 mimi May 5, 2008 at 2:50 pm

honestly i’d rather not wake up to birds, too early!! haha. but i did see my first eastern towhee this weekend and was super excited. your parathas look delish, as all your things do!


31 Uma May 5, 2008 at 7:13 pm

those parathas look divine, Sunitha! Great pictures.


32 chemcookit May 6, 2008 at 7:15 am

I still haven’t tried to make parathas, and these look delicious! And, I’m looking forward to taking part to the think cardamom event! :)
Also: I tagged you for a meme.. 6 random things about yourself, I hope you have fun writing your post!


33 Fotobuch May 6, 2008 at 10:35 am

I like to stay beside a sea or mountain in the time between sunrise and mid-morning.Then everything seems so beautiful that I cant explain.


34 Sukanya Ramkumar May 6, 2008 at 6:18 pm

Hi Sunita…
Parathas looks so YUMMY!…. Adding cream cheese to parathas is a excellent idea…. Nice recipe and pictures looks amazing…


35 Sia May 7, 2008 at 7:31 am

dont we just love that chorus suni? I enjoyed my bit of sunshine and all lovely things in India and now enjoying this crisp spring here:)
and that stack of parathas is to die for. just learnt fm valli that its Roti Mela going on in her blog. got another stuffed stuff coming up for her:)


36 sunita May 7, 2008 at 10:09 am

I am an early riser, so the bird songs come along with it

thanks…we did love them a lot :-)


37 sunita May 7, 2008 at 10:12 am

Thanks…looking forward to your cardamom entry…btw, thanks for the tag, but i have already done one…seven random things about myself :-)

You have described such an idyllic place…if only…


38 sunita May 7, 2008 at 10:14 am

thanks…the cream cheese was a pleasant addition indeed :-)

Nice to have you back…isn’t the weather just right for the last few days…I’m sure you had a pleasant stay in India :-)


39 Suganya May 7, 2008 at 10:46 pm

I have everything on hand for these parathas. Will sure try it.


40 sunita May 8, 2008 at 12:38 am

Do give them a try…hope you like them :-)


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