May 07, 2013

Learning from birds

With a group of people of more or less all ages, I went out listening to birds last Sunday morning. Starting towards the end of Dorfgasse in Langenthal, Switzerland we passed through a forrest and went by a beautiful lake on the way. Listening consciously to birds for about 3½ hours was a new experience to me. Among things I learned were the following: Learning experience # 1 Around 5 o’clock on this Sunday morning, just at it started getting light, I heard most birds singing / whistling. It was quite amazing to experience that the bird concert got louder and more diverse, as it became lighter. Learning experience # 2 The variety of bird signals / calls / singing surprised me. In this regard, it also surprised me a lot to read that there are around 10,000 living bird species. Learning experience # 3 I learned that birds have a great sight and are also really good listeners. It struck me that we can learn a lot from birds when it comes to listening. In this regard, here are some listening tips you may want to try out as you listen to birds and/or fellow human beings. Learning experience # 4 During the experience, I used my smartphone primarily for taking photos. However, I came to think about that it would have been useful to use the smartphone in other ways as well. For example, I imagine that the use of an app that turns a smartphone into a hearing aid could have been really helpful for people who wanted to make small sounds by birds a little bit louder / clearer. Even with good hearing, it was sometimes quite a challenge to accurately hear sounds of birds – and particularly challenging to determine from which trees birds’ sounds came. Learning experience # 5 I learned that birds’ eggs come in many different sizes and colours. The guides, who did a fine job introducing participants to the life of birds, showed us some birds’ eggs. Also, it was quite impressive to see how birds had prepared nests in small cages that the guides had hung up in trees. Writing this blog posting, the song Blackbird popped into my mind. Embedded below is a beautiful version of the song - performed by Paul McCartney:
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