272 pages, b/w illustrations (no illustrations in paperback edition)
Learning birdsong is not just a way to become a better bird-spotter. It is tuning in: a way of hearing the soundtrack of the planet earth... Why do birds sing? What are they trying to say? Birdsong is not just about natural history. It is also about our history. We got melody from the birds as we got rhythm from the womb. Birds are our music: they teach us to express emotion and beauty in sound. The first instruments ever made were bird-flutes.
This vital book – with a podcast – takes you from winter into deepest spring, teaching you to how recognise song after song as the chorus swells. You start with robin, and end up listening to nightingales. Along the way, you will learn something of the science of birdsong – the difference between song and call, the physiology of songbirds, what birdsong tells us about evolution, and indeed the very beginnings of life itself. The aim is to give you a flying start in birdsong so that, after reading Birdwatching With Your Eyes Closed, you'll be listening to order, not chaos, to Bach, not white noise. You will be more aware of the wild world, and better able to understand it.
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Simon Barnes is the multi-award-winning chief sportswriter for the Times. He is also a novelist, nature writer and horseman, and the author of a dozen books, including the bestselling How to be a Bad Birdwatcher and The Meaning of Sport (Short Books). He lives in Suffolk with his family.