One of the advantages of triple glazing besides keeping out extremes of outdoor temperature is that it also keeps out sound. But that noteworthy advantage is also its failing, as not all sounds are good to keep out — like birdsong. It is only the most strident — the magpies’ — that make it through three layers of glass. A downright pity when the windows are closed, as one misses out on some of the loveliest and most endearing of birdsong — such as the song thrush’s with its enchanting tonal range. I was unprepared for a virtuoso performance when I opened the windows to air the rooms yesterday morning.
I got out the binoculars to find out which bird was on stage for the impromptu morning concert, and there, perched high on the still leafless poplar in Frau Grau’s little spinney, was a thrush, warbling its heart out ever so cheerily and magnificently. Now I know why a thrush is so renowned and loved — I have simply never before heard its song sung with such fire and gusto.
I suspect my singer thrush is on the lookout for a mate. It’s spring after all, just the time for wooing and romance among our feathered friends. I see the tiniest of birds — the tits — flying in close formation most days, a perfect wingspan apart, mirroring each other’s moves as they flit and swoop through the branches of the yew, chirping all the while. In contrast to the commonly-heard songs of the tits, the thrush’s songs are so unusually thrilling with such heart-stopping improvisations — avian jazz, as it were. Who can resist such a spring serenade? Were I a thrush, I would surely be tempted to check out the purveyor of such spirited singing.
The daily concert in my back garden begins at first light. As soon as the dark of night turns just the merest of a whisper paler, the earliest of vocalizations start. At first it is only one voice, joined soon thereafter by another, and then another. These are not full-throated songs. Not yet. They’re more like throat clearings, practice — getting the musical gear supple and up to snuff for the grand performance later — also known as The Dawn Chorus. That’s accompanied by the panoply of a full orchestra, when every bird is awake and up and about, confirming its place in the grand order of things and the world and life in my garden by singing its unique song to everyone who can hear.
The birds that I see almost year-round in my garden are blackbirds, tits (blue, black, great), finches, robins, wrens, crows, and magpies. Jays are rare guests, and it is only because they had discovered the feeders we had put out for the smaller birds that they have outgrown their wariness and been seen oftener all this winter. Thrushes — my garden’s Meistersingers — are rarer still, and perhaps they are just back from their winter quarters elsewhere nice and warm, and now that it is also getting slightly warmer in Bonn, are looking to settle down, perhaps to make a new nest, here in the shelter of my garden.
I feel blessed to have heard such ravishing birdsong yesterday, and on such a perfectly sunny spring day, it was truly divine. I was unable to take a photo of my Meistersinger yesterday, as I no longer have a telephoto lens. (Blast those bandits!) These photos were taken sometime over the past two years. It is highly likely that one of them is my garden’s jazz star.