Tuesday, 9 April 2013

So Sweet A Song

Have I really never written about one of my favourite sounds before? Quickly typing in "blackbird" into the search bar of my blog, I find only two references; one in a book review, and then this post I wrote about birds in general, not blackbird-specific.

Listening to the blackbird's song early in the mornings and just before nightfall is something I have always loved. With "always" I mean for as long as I can consciously remember such detail, which is from about the time I was about six or seven.

There is a sweetness to that song I find heart-tugging; it probably has something to do with it coinciding (although, of course, it is not a coincidence) with the arrival of spring, bringing some warmth and light after months of mostly cold and grey days. And this year, most of us living in this part of the world have had more than their usual share of cold and grey, I suppose! All the more we appreciate even the smallest sign of a slow shift in season. If you look and listen closely enough, the signs aren't that small, things are simply about 3 weeks behind.

I took these pictures one evening last week; as you can see, daylight was already on the retreat, and this blackbird sat on my neighbours' roof top, singing his little heart out. His eyes didn't look like that in real life, that's just my camera's flash refleced in them. Apparently, that did not scare him; he just kept singing, and I listening.




Along with sparrows, tits, magpies, crows and doves, blackbirds must be the most common birds in my area. We also get to see and hear various kinds of finches, woodpeckers, jays and a robin every now and then, plus of course the larks, buzzards and kestrels out on the fields. But none of them sing a song as sweet as the blackbird, so distinguishable, so easy to follow its verses and differences between one individual blackbird and the other.

The lark's song is "summer" for me; about the buzzard's cry I've been going on plenty on my blog already, and I love the trilling of finches up in the tree, but the blackbird's song will always have a special place in my heart.

20 comments:

  1. I really love the sound of the European blackbird! Sad to say, we don't have this bird in the US and I was delighted with them when Paul and I first came to Germany and then Hungary in the early 70s. There is a silly story connected with them.

    I had been listening to a blackbird one morning and we went to one of Paul's Hungarian cousins for lunch. His wife asked me about my impressions of Hungarians. Your have to know that the word bird "madar" is very similar in sound to the word Hungarian "Magyar", and I was just learning the language. I said that I found them quite different. Kati asked me "how?". I replied that they were different colors and their songs were quite different. She gave me a strange look, but then amazed me by asking if I thought it was because the ones in Hungary were more modern than those in the US. I remember thinking for a second that I knew that Hungarians thought many things in Hungary were better than elsewhere, but.....more modern birds? And then we both realized that some serious misunderstanding was going on. But it was really funny when it happened. And all because of the blackbird I'd heard singing that morning.

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    1. That really IS a funny story, Kristi, thank you for sharing it :-)
      So easy to get words mixed up when we are learning a language, and usually they result in much laughter all around!

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  2. Boy do I get this feeling. Every spring when I see the first swallow I practically swoon on the spot, then the gather and build in numbers to where if you go to the right place, their peeping and willy nilly flying almost knocks you over. I just saw the first one a week ago. A sign of hope and good luck........
    xx
    julie

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    1. Julie, we don't get many swallows here in town; there are some out on the fields around the farm houses there, but where I live we see lots of swifts. I love the sound they make, too, and love watching their incredible maneuvers in the air, but it will be some months before that starts.
      Glad you already saw a swallow a week ago!

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  3. OH, you know I love this post!
    Richard's aunt in England would always have some raisins saved for the blackbird that would visit her garden. While we were there once, the blackbird landed on her patio and looked in at us as if to say "Where are my raisins?" Sure enough, Doreen jumped up and placed the raisins carefully on the patio! As soon as she came back in, the bird came down and happily ate the raisins! Beautiful bird with a beautiful song. It's true that we don't have them in America, but we do have the American Robin which is also in the same family, they are both thrushes.
    Also, isn't that lovely place you love to visit have an area called Birdsong Valley? I LOVE that name!

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    1. They are not daft, are they! The ones near my house know that they can sometimes find crumbs or nuts on one of the window sills in the kitchen. The most daring ones will even come and grab their little treats while RJ and I are having breakfast right next to that (closed) window; others will wait until nobody is in the kitchen.
      Yes, you are right about the Valley of the Birdsong! It's been so long since I last walked there... this long winter has kept me away from my beloved park far too long.

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  4. I am not familiar with the song of the European blackbird. For me it is the robin. They always were the bird that welcomed spring when I was a child. I think they stick around longer these days but it still amkes me happy to hear them early in the morning when spring is near.

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    1. Although I do see robins here every now and then, I'm afraid I can't say what their song sounds like. Nice to see we each have a special bird song to remind us of spring!

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    2. I think you have the English robin where you live, Meike. The American robin is a different bird. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/american_Robin/id
      You can hear the American robin at that website, but I think the European blackbird has a lovelier song.

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    3. Thank you, Kristi, that's a very useful website!

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  5. As you know I love birds and the song of the blackbird or the thrush is as beautiful as any one can hear. Sadly I rarely hear them because they don't usually come near to the house on Lewis (I'm not sure why) although I have many other types of birds there. I have no idea at all why I don't hear them here in NZ where there are lots of them in the vicinity of The Cottage.

    I agree with you though about the beauty of their song - it does tug at the heartstrings in a way that no other birdsong does.

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    1. That's really strange, no blackbirds coming near the house although there are many there, and when many other birds come near. Usually, the presence of other birds or even cats does not deter them from getting to where they want!

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  6. You are so right about blackbirds - true harbingers of spring! I too love their song.

    BTW what's the German for blackbird?

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    1. Amd there I was, grappling with something along the lines of Schwarzvogel....

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    2. Well, it is a schwarzer Vogel, that's true, so you were right in terms of description.

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  7. We don't have them around here but they're at the beginning of a Kate Bush song and I always enjoy their cheery chirrups.

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    1. They also feature in a Beatles' song :-)

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  8. We have lots of crows here in Sicily! And pigeons!

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    1. Lots of those here as well, but they can't sing, can they... Although I must say I quite like the sound pigeons make.

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