The Listening to Birds Blog

Song Thrush by Nigel Pye //

Some thoughts on connecting with bird song

Here are some thoughts from a correspondent in Wales:

I would describe myself as a ‘birder’ in that I go out regularly to look for birds and like to identify the birds I see (by sound and sight). However, there is also an emotional element to it. Bird song is a wonderful way to connect directly and easily with nature. Listening for birds is a form of meditation, in that it directs attention away from all the other clutter that fills our lives, and fully immerses me in the nature around me.

Some birdsong in particular does evoke emotion, particularly the robin. From about mid-august the song becomes melancholic, and somehow reminds me of the coming winter, and makes me feel slightly melancholic too! In January/ Feb, an increase in the amount of birdsong is uplifting, as it reminds me of the coming spring. The birds themselves all sound cheery and happy about the changing seasons, and I do too.

I have a musical ear, and my automatic response when identifying a bird song is to listen for a unique tune in the song. This makes it very difficult to identify birds which do a continuous mixture of notes with no obvious (to me) tune e.g. blackcap, reed warbler, sedge warbler, whereas I can ‘sing’ along with a great tit or blackbird.

And some from Canada:

Birdsong re-connects me to the natural world I sometimes forget I am a part of. As well as providing a natural guide to the time of day, the sound itself can be spiritually rewarding. I grew up an avid birdwatcher as a kid and have always been fascinated by birds. I often find myself stopping what I’m doing for a few moments in private on the way out of the house or in the street, close my eyes for a moment and feel like I’m actually taking part in the morning (or evening) as an actual event. I can feel totally connected to the world via the sounds/songs of birds. Songs/ calls of eagles/ hawks in particular have a very spiritual aspect and can make the hairs on my neck stand up in a second – a reccuring dream I sometimes have is of a lone hawk high above me circling and calling. I remember being at university and every morning it was like somebody ‘switched the birds on’ outside, like it was through a huge speaker next to my window – it was a bizarre experience. Birdsong is the unheard sountrack of our lives.

And from Sweden:

There is something truly magical about bird song. No matter how stressed or tired I feel, upon hearing birds singing, I always feel uplifted and less anxious. It’s like having a reality check, like nature is saying to you that it’s ok – the world keeps spinning and mother nature remains a constant in a world of fast-paced change.
I always try to spot the singer in it’s tree and I am astonished at the power of such a small creature – the power to sing and the power to move and calm my senses. I know it’s a cliche’ but bird song really makes me remember what I am – just a fellow species on this planet. And it makes me feel safe and connected to nature.

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