Bird Talk

Quite a mix of birds has collected around the bird feeders outside our kitchen windows this year. The Chickadees and Juncos vie with the House Finches, Nuthatches and occasional Sparrow for a place at the trough. Lately, the big birds – Robins, Doves, Flickers and Jays – have become more aggressive in getting their share.

The smaller birds remain wary but undaunted. Even with the windows closed we hear their chatter (telling lies, sharing gossip and complaining about the weather), plus the occasional squawk from a Jay or the sweet rumble of the Doves. Our local Raven flock periodically hangs out in the trees around our yard, joining the Flickers in their search of the lawn for goodies (“Like the lions,” you can hear them think, “hunting prey on the savanna”). Unidentifiable sounds emanate from the yard as the birds congregate and move around.

Now that it is getting cold, we routinely hear calls from the flocks of Canadian Geese that cruise overhead along our nearby creek. Sole geese call out looking for company and the members of a flock will chat among themselves or encourage a member coming late to the party as they fly over.

In the spring, when it’s warm enough to keep the bedroom windows open, we awake to the chatter of the small birds — LGB’s (little grey birds) — in the trees as the dawn sunlight hits the tops of the trees. Their sounds help me to bridge the transition between slumber and the real world. Later in the season, when the Warblers arrive, it is a virtual sunrise symphony.

Writer Mary Jo DiLonardo reports, “Listening to birds trill or watching them flit and fly is more than just entertaining. Being around birds offers benefits for emotional well-being that can last as long as eight hours, a new study finds.” She quotes research partner and landscape architect Jo Gibbons, “Who hasn’t tuned into the melodic complexities of the dawn chorus early on a spring morning? A multi-sensory experience that seems to enrich everyday life, whatever our mood or whereabouts.”

“This exciting research underpins just how much the sight and sound of birdsong lift the spirits. It captures intriguing evidence that a biodiverse environment is restorative in terms of mental well-being. That the sensual stimulation of birdsong, part of those daily ‘doses’ of nature, is precious and time-lasting.”

Lead author Ryan Hammoud notes, “This highlights the importance of protecting environments that encourage and sustain birdlife, not only for biodiversity but also for our mental health.”

Robert Goulet sang,

“I talk to the trees
But they don’t listen to me
I talk to the stars
But they never hear me
The breeze hasn’t time
To stop and hear what I say
I talk to them all in vain.”

On the other hand, Rex Harrison listened,

“I’d confer with our furry friends and animals
Think of the amazing repartee!
If I could walk with the animals, talk with the animals
Grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals
And they could talk to me.”

Maybe we all just need to take a little more time to listen.

Additional information:

Mary Jo DiLonardo, Seeing or Hearing Birds Is Good for Well-Being, TreeHugger, November 9, 2022

Robert Goulet, I Talk to the Trees (Music and lyrics by Frederick Loewe)

Rex Harrison, Talk to the Animals (Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse)

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