Tweet of the day – the song thrush

by Matthew Cobb

BBC Radio 4 has launched a new daily series on British songbirds, ‘Tweet of the Day’. It’s two minutes long, narrated by David Attenborough and is on at 5:58 AM London time. Given that, one way or another, many WEIT readers will be in bed at that time, here’s the link so you can all listen to it. You get the end of the farming programme for a few seconds, before the thrush and Attenborough kick in.

Attenborough quotes Robert Browning’s poem ‘Home Thoughts from Abroad’:

Oh, to be in England,
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough In England – now!
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows -
Hark! where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops – at the bent spray’s edge -
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over, 
Lest you should think he never could recapture 
The first fine careless rapture! 
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower,
- Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

And here’s a video of various song thrushes tweeting away:

 

11 Comments

  1. Dominic
    Posted May 7, 2013 at 2:43 am | Permalink

    Turdus philomelos -
    Reminds me of the Thomas Morley Madrigal – http://www.onlinesheetmusic.com/though-philomela-lost-her-love-p260293.aspx

    “Though Philomela lost her love,
    fresh note she warbleth yes again;
    Fa la la la.
    He is a fool that lovers prove:
    and leaves to sing, to live in pain.
    Fa la la la”

  2. JBlilie
    Posted May 7, 2013 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    My favorite birds calls are (being an inhabitant of the western USA):

    The hermit thrush

    The western meadowlark (Be sure to listen to the final call — it’s the most characteristic of the birds that inhabit the land around my place.)

    • Curt Cameron
      Posted May 7, 2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      The hermit thrush is also my favorite. Behind my house (I live in the Dallas suburbs) I have sometimes heard one in the distance, but this spring, every morning, I hear more than one nearby. I never see them, though, except for a couple of months ago I found one dead on my deck. He must have flown into a window.

      • JBlilie
        Posted May 7, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

        I’ve heard them so many times but never (knowingly) seen one!

    • Posted May 7, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      I’m from the Virginia piedmont (transplanted to the Sonoran Desert), so my favorite is the Wood Thrush – for me it is THE sound of the eastern forest at high summer.

      I love the hermit thrush too – a bird of the North Woods and (at warmer latitudes) high elevations. We have them here in southern AZ in the mountains.

      I have always said that the wood thrush plays a wooden flute, and the hermit thrushj plays a silver one.

      • Dominic
        Posted May 8, 2013 at 2:41 am | Permalink

        What a lovely image! Must seek them out…

  3. Posted May 7, 2013 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    Wonderful post! That little guy in the video sure can riff. I thoroughly enjoyed the broadcast and the dash of Browning. Thanks Prof. Cobb.

  4. Posted May 7, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Radio New Zealand National has played a bird call before the hour at 5.59am, 6.59am, 7.59am and 8.59am for several decades. (As a result many of us are quite good at identifying birds by their calls.) I wonder if the BBC didn’t get the idea from us?

    (As you know, Jerry, but readers may not) NZ has a wonderful avifauna because it was isolated before the evolution of mammals, and birds diversified into all the mammalian niches, hence all the flightless varieties. (Our only indigenous mammals are bats.) They seem to have focussed on song rather than plumage for sexual display, unlike Australian birds which can look gorgeous but seem to just squawk. Sadly the NZ avifauna is only a shadow of its pre-human self.

    • Dominic
      Posted May 8, 2013 at 2:45 am | Permalink

      “unlike Australian birds which can look gorgeous but seem to just squawk” – I will treasure that comment & reel it out when I next meet an Australian!

      By the way, sadly the elm tree bole is long gone with Dutch Elm Disease… & now we have oak processionary moths poised to devastate oak woodland across the British Isles. :(


Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25,699 other followers

%d bloggers like this: