There aren't many environments where you won't spot a feathered friend. Thriving in the unlikeliest of situations, birdlife brings hope that even the most wilderness-starved corners can host a little of the natural world. In our rushing around, bird song can be something we tune out, or if we do register it, it may not go further than thinking "Oh that's nice." But learning just a few simples tunes and who makes them can suddenly unlock a whole orchestra of understanding, create connection with the more than human world* and bring a little wild just a little closer. The best part is that it doesn't have to be hard!
I use an amazing tool called Birdnet which is an app for iPhone or Android that records the sound and tells you the most likely singer along with links to more facts. Not an ad, I just really love it and use it most weeks! So you get the joy of tuning your ears to songs, whether they're starting to sound familiar or not, and the instant gratification of an answer.
During lockdown, I watched this 1 minute video BTO series on birdsong, focusing on different birds in an easy and accessible way and would really recommend it. Being blessed with a garden, that window into a bigger world during that difficult time when all our horizons shrank gave so much joy and peace. Just like that first lockdown, early Spring is an excellent time to start to open your ears - birds are tuning up in earnest as they start to lay their claim to breeding territories, and the aptly named Song Thrush can be heard from dawn until dusk (and sometimes at night too!)
Remember that it’s not a test, but becoming familiar with just a couple of feathered friends will open up a whole new world of understanding and connection. So instead of hearing bird song and just thinking "oh that's nice," you can think, "I can hear a surprisingly loud wren even though they're so tiny and camouflaged I can't spot them."
“A sky filled with tiny, twinkling lights is one thing, but a sky filled with other worlds is quite another. Deeper understanding confers that most precious thing - wonder.”
- Professor Brian Cox
Oh and I’m working on a garden bird collection at the moment, hopefully coming soon!
* This phrase is often used by We Are Stardust - a small business hero of mine who also blends science and beauty.
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