Song-birds, poetry-birds, or multi-media-birds?
Thanks to the dawn chorus, I woke up smiling this morning, despite the instant sight of the memo I’d stuck on the wardrobe door the night before: “DO ACCOUNTS!” For me, tax returns are an annual dread.
So what is it about birdsong that we humans find so cheery? I pondered, delaying the maths a bit longer.
Several answers came to me that had never occurred to me before:
Song-birds sing in a key – and a major key at that (what other animals do that?).
They don’t just sing – they talk too, with intonation remarkably close to ours.
Their communication seems to ask questions and answer them, to comment and react, to mourn and rejoice, ruminate and decide.
Their chorus sends out a message: “Never mind life’s hassles! Let’s get on and make the most of it!”
And they do! They put on a good old entertainment every morning. (Okay, they don’t have tax returns to do, but they have plenty of other bores to contend with – human beings for one, and all their baggage.) Yes, they set their gossip to a syncopated rhythm; then they bring on the operetta and the theatre company.
No wonder these hollow-boned, hollow-brained little creatures give us a lift!
Popping into the garden (another accounts-delaying tactic), I met a whole performance: baby birds cheep-cheeping in the background, parents answering from afar, a couple in a squabble round the apple tree, and one solo blackbird, just singing its heart out. The result was something like this:
Back row: TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET….
Next row: CHEEP – CHIRRUP – CHEEP – CHIRRUP – …
CHIRRA-CHOO / CHIRRA-CHIP / CHIP-CHAP-CHIP-CHAP-CHIP-CHAP-CHOO!
Solo soliloquy at the footlights:
LARRA-LU! – – LARRA-LIE! – – LARRA-LEE! – – LA-LA-LA!
Then I went back inside to hear the news headlines, just starting on the radio… but from a distance, I could make out nothing of their substance, whether disastrous, wonderful, or what. The monotone mumble of the reader’s voice told nothing.