The Listening to Birds Blog

Song Thrush by Nigel Pye //


Blackbirds are singing a lot in Britain now, and they seem to sound especially good on a warm, still evening. Caroline Brown from Bedford writes:

When I was in my first year of university I lived in student halls next to a building site. The builders worked from 8 o’clock in the morning until 5 in the evening, and for the majority of that time all I could hear in my room was machinery. But in the middle of the night when I was lying in bed I used to leave my window open to listen to the sound of the blackbirds singing. It seemed like they were as joyful as me to appreciate the all-too-brief peace, and reminded me of childhood summers spent playing cricket until it was too dark to see the ball. I can honestly say that few sounds will ever make me feel so utterly content.

From a respondent in London:

I am lucky enough to live overlooking Bunhill Fields in The City of London. William Blake, Daniel Defoe and John Bunyan were buried there. A virtuoso blackbird – Murphy – inhabits Bunhill Fields and has entertained my family and neighbours for several years. He and Mrs Murphy are imprinted on our block of flats, usually trying to nest in one or other of the balconies, on top of a security camera, and last year on a pipe in our basement garage. Murphy’s singing is so gloriously over the top that you sometimes have to laugh from the sheer exuberance of it. Also, Murphy’s territory includes a primary school, and I think he may have picked up some intonations from the children. Murphy is a “shared value” linking a pretty sophisticated but loose-knit group of people together.

From Elizabeth Soulie:

In May 1999, my sister and I were at my mother’s bedside in Somerset. She was dying, peacefully, after many frustrating years of immobilisation following a series of strokes. During the week before her death, we were sharing a bedroom in a nearby bed and breakfast. She died one morning at 4am when we were sleeping. At the same time, we were woken by the clear, loud, full-throated song of a blackbird, even though it was still dark. We both wondered why it was singing in the night and listened to it for some time.

When we were informed of my mother’s death a little later that morning, I immediately thought that it was as if she had come to sing her great happiness at being free from her handicap at last and it was a very comforting thought. Since then the dawn or dusk song of the blackbird has always brought back memories of my mother. It is the most musical and soul-lifting sound.

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