“If we learn to read the birds- and their behaviours and vocalizations- through them, we can read the world at large… if we replace collision with connection, learn to read these details, feel at home, relax, and are respectful– ultimately the birds will yield to us the first rite of passage: a close encounter with an animal otherwise wary of our presence.” ― Jon Young, What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World
Ever since I sat in the forest for four days and four night alone – in a circle made of stones, for my Vision Quest, I have been awake to the magic of bird communication. In that time of silence and solitude with nothing but the natural world to keep me company I developed a new appreciation and sensitivity to what birds are doing and saying all around me.
Sometimes I have to laugh at myself because while most people are going about their normal day to day duties, I’ll be staring up at the sky or staring at a bush or tree for extended periods of time, trying catch a glimpse of the bird I just heard. I think my friends think I’m a bit strange when I interrupt a conversation or all of a sudden run away to see what bird just flew overhead.
It’s a fun and weird new character trait that I have developed and I wouldn’t have it any other way (despite the weird looks).
My new favourite outdoor activity is to sit in my semi wild backyard and try to spot as many different birds as I can. I try to get familiar with their names and learn about how they live. I have been trying to master the art and skill of listening to and then identifying each bird’s calls and songs. There are so many different calls from each bird that it can be a challenging task.
I have been using the All About Birds website out on my back lawn but thankfully just a few weeks ago my friend and fellow bird lover, Wes, told me about a new bird app. It’s called Merlin and it’s a bird id app that you can use on smartphones. Learn more about it here >> http://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/
This app really changes things for me! I do love just passively enjoying the sights and sounds of birds when I am walking in the woods, but there is something about knowing who is around me and what they sound like that brings out a child-like curiousity and joy inside of me. I love using bird identification books as I am a book person but I do love the fact that I can listen to the bird songs on this app.
Jon Young, a leader in bird language and Nature Connection, has written a book all about bird language and how it can tell us about what is going on in our surroundings. The birds can help us know things that we otherwise wouldn’t. I don’t know about you, but I find this fascinating! It’s like the shows I would watch as a child… the one’s where everyone had an animal friend that would help then and tell them important things during their adventures. We can have a similar relationship with the birds if we slow down, open up our senses, and become mindful and receptive. Listen to what the birds are telling you!
During your 30 minutes of time outside today try to spot one or more birds with your eyes and ears. Follow that bird and try to get a good look at it. Study it’s colours and features. Watch it’s mannerisms — does it stay in the trees, forage on the ground or stay near water? Listen to it’s calls and songs. Make notes if you can. After 30 minutes of watching and listening to the bird’s language, use a bird book or the resources below to learn more about the bird(s) you were observing. Try to learn as much as you can and listen to more of it’s calls online so next time you will know more about the birds you are interacting with.
As always… defining something too much tends to create a separation between us and that thing, in this case the birds. Be mindful not to define these birds and they push them away because you know information about them. Try to stay in your child-like curiousity and awe.
Please share your thoughts and photos in the facebook group.