Thursday, 17 March 2011


5am and though the sun was still but a distant glowing on the horizon, the birds heralded the promise of its coming. Stepping out from the muffling walls of the house, my senses were immediately assaulted. From each rooftop, treetop and wall top flowed a ceaseless river of notes as the blackbirds blew their trumpets: "I'm here, I'm fit, I'm the best!" Perhaps the overwhelming power of their song, or perhaps simply the nip in the March morning air raised goosebumps and a shiver. Beneath the powerful aria of the thrush family, the spawning frogs provided the backing for a chorus line of twittering tits, sparrows and finches, all competing to have their voices heard in the cacophony, while the sweet notes of the robin wove their way through through the tangle of phrases to reach the ear.

To our ears the sound is joyful and I wonder how the birds themselves feel. For them it's all about being the best, being the fittest and being able to breed. A Blackbird that has survived the perils of the night and has the energy to sing with such gusto at sunrise is likely to be an eminently suitable mate. The currency of the natural world could be counted in calories and having a big calorific song if definitely attractive!

Jenny Holden
Image: Dunnock by Chris Wilde