Thursday, 25 April 2013

Some Thoughts on the Nature of Bird-song


"High in the wide sky over the rush studded peat & wind rippled ditches of the wide wild brooks, the liquid song of skylark flows"
 Bird song is one of my precious pleasures of life, from the chirruping of house sparrows beyond my bedroom window when I wake in the morning, to the liquid sunshine notes of the soaring skylark, a tiny speck high in the cloudless summer sky. The beautiful heart lifting blackbirds song from the rooftop at dusk and the whistling of the robin in winter snow.

Poets and writers have, throughout history, always been moved by bird song; often mentioning how it seems to connect with the very inner feelings and soul of the listener, lifting the spirits and curing a heavy heart. Some have empathised with imagined emotions of lost and lonely or triumphant and love-struck birds,  whilst others marvel at the complex musicality of the songs themselves.

It seems that bird song is so much more than the simply scientific and biological process of making noise, it is an integral part of place and time, memory and emotion.

Maybe we feel such a connection with birds because, unlike the vast majority of mammals and other creatures, birds more often express themselves not just by smell and complex behaviours, but largely by calls and song, like us humans speak and sing (and indeed write!) and their voice is very much part of their identity.

What ever the reason, whenever the blackbird's flute-like notes drift down to my evening-scented garden, or hedgerows explode with sudden trills from a wren, when I stand in shady scrub and listen to the nightingale or bask on sun-drenched downs soaked in skylark song, for that moment, time pauses. The world is perfect, and life is good.

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