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  • Writer's picturegailphilip4

The Word from the Bird

I was listening in the garden to the birds singing round and about. They don’t mind sharing their birdsong. They are not bothered as to whether you think their particular song is pretty or not, or whether you think they are singing in tune or “correctly” (whatever that might mean). They just do it! From dawn till dusk.

We might think during the lock-down that there is not too much to sing about. Rather, plenty to groan about! Plenty even to cry about (say, if you’ve lost a loved one to the virus, or even lost your livelihood)! But for the birds there is everything to sing about.

Some of them are singing to say something like: “I’m strong and healthy and I’m looking for love!” Some are saying: “This is where I live.” Some are saying: “I’m fine – how are you?” Some are trying to help their neighbours by doing a risk assessment: “Watch out! Cat about!”

Most birds take up a position where they can give their full attention to their song, while others are happy to multi-task. Buntings and skylarks, for example, sing on the wing. A sort of “Whistle while you work!” song.

House sparrows have just one simple song; song thrushes and nightingales by comparison have several different varieties of song. Other species are experts at mimicry. They can copy other birds’ songs.

You can hear this birdsong anywhere, but the symphony is perhaps at its best in woodland or wild areas. Famous composers have heard that symphony and gone away inspired to write their own. Do you remember Respighi’s The Birds which was the title music for the TV programme: Going for a Song, with Arthur Negus the presenter?

Birdsong is always positive in tone. It sounds cheerful (unless it is a sort of warning), never depressed or gloomy. There must be a message there for us all! And with there being less traffic about, this is a really good time to hear that positive message clearly!

The kiss of the sun for pardon, The song of the birds for mirth, One is nearer God's Heart in a garden, Than anywhere else on earth.

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