Listening to birdsong a forgotten pleasure    

16 January 2014

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A Gardener's World magazine survey suggests few can identify the song of common garden birds such as blackbirds, sparrows and robins.

Watch a clip from Suky Best's Early Birds, an animated film of the dawn chorus.

More than 1,600 people responded to the online audio survey in a special birds edition of the magazine, which urges people to take care of birds over the winter.

Wood pigeon most recognisable

Although more than half of those who responded could recognise the sound of a wood pigeon, only 11 per cent could identify the blue tit, a quarter recognised the sound of a robin and 30 per cent could spot a house sparrow.


A blackbird ready to sing posing in the Wildlife Garden this morning.

Lucy Hall, editor of the magazine, blamed the rise of technology and our loss of connection with nature and the seasons for ignorance of our surroundings and once-familiar birdsong.

Bird heaven

Meanwhile, the Museum's Wildlife Garden is currently home to a host of birds, including:  the blackbird, mistle thrush, robin, moorhen, wood pigeon, blue tit, great tis, coal tit, greenfinch, chaffinch, with occasional sightings of goldfinch, dunnock, wren, carrion crow, magpie, and a great spotted woodpecker.

The birds in bold above are expected to nest in the garden.

Caroline Ware, Wildlife Garden manager, said, 'We’ll expect to see those birds listed during the spring, too – but not mistle thrush or redwing, and hopefully we’ll see or hear blackcap. Occasionally we find a heron – once the frogs are out in the pond breeding!'

Staff in the garden confirmed the first redwing for a couple of years appeared last week.

Although the Garden is closed to the public until 1 April 2014, you can follow the Wildlife Garden blog to keep track of what is happening.

Tweet of the day

Sir David Attenborough, who recently starred in the Sky film David Attenborough's Natural History Museum Alive, regularly presents Tweet of the Day on Radio 4. 

Watch the full-length version of Early Birds, an Animate Projects and Channel 4 film by Suky Best, 2008.