As I explain in About This Blog it has been around 40 years since I heard birdsong. I can hear rooks and ducks if they are very close by (with their deep “caw caw” or “quack quack”) but that’s about it. Anything in the upper octaves escapes me completely. It doesn’t upset me. In fact, I really like it when people say “oh listen – the first curlew” (they return to nest around here in March) or “the birds are really loud this morning – spring is definitely coming”. It keeps me in touch.
Actually, I admit, if a bird with a loud high pitched song is REALLY close by, and it is otherwise quiet, I CAN hear something. I can hear the very deep part of their song. So a blackbird or thrush will sound “crack, cruck, crackity” because I can’t hear all the nice melodic bits. Today I was out with the dog, everything was calm and peaceful and rural and suddenly one of those “crack, cruckity” noises came from very close by. I peer about, stand still, annoy the dog (she wants to be off chasing her ball, not stood here staring at trees) and then there it is – a song thrush on a high branch singing away like billy-o. It is so close I can see its bill moving – to sounds lost to me except for bits of the bass line.
Now for the funny part. When I was a child my grandpa, in common with a lot of elderly men in mining areas of the North East, bred canaries. He had an aviary in the garden and I spent hours and hours in there with him looking after Peter and Pam, Dick and Dolly and the rest (I still have the book he recorded their names in). So, when I see a bird like that song thrush singing, in my head the sound I hear, or rather the sound I imagine, is a canary. It must be imprinted in my brain because I heard it so often way back then.
I don’t mind at all if you laugh. I find it hilarious that I see a song thrush or blackbird singing and my brain “hears” a fifty year old canary.