Hear the Birdsong Again

A staggering 44 million birds have disappeared from the UK countryside since 1966. That’s the figure, the data, and its old data now so the real figure is certainly higher. But what does it actually mean? How can we make that sort of statistic in any way tangible?

You see, I just can’t imagine what 44 million birds look like. How big a pile is that? Its beyond comprehension. Or is it? Because when I go out in that countryside I see a lot less birds that I did when Geoff Hurst got that hat-trick. I see less birds in my garden than when I moved to the house. I perceive the data, I feel the loss . . . but most of all I hear it. Because our springs are silent.

There are still birds there, they still sing beautifully, but they are not in the choirs, the orchestras that we remember just yesterday.

They are often noticeable precisely because of their loneliness, they ‘stand-out’ because they are not singing through a wall of sound. And lying in bed, listening to my single Blackcap outside in the hedge, I thought what if we could somehow replicate the sound of those missing millions of birds . . .

Download the once familiar birdsong

Here is a download of once familiar birdsong. I’m indebted to the excellent nature sound recordist Gary Moore @mooresounds for these recordings, and to the equally excellent Caroline Hamilton @CasHam2411 for editing them together. You will hear Blackbird, Blackcap, Chiff-chaff, Nightingale, Robin, Willow Warbler, Song Thrush and Skylark in there, plus a few strays like Pheasant. It’s an unlikely and eclectic mix . . . but a poignant one.

Please download it onto your phone, and if you are coming on the Peoples Walk For Wildlife on 22nd September in Hyde Park have it ready to play, on repeat, and loudly, so that as we walk through the noisy streets of our capital that afternoon we can all stop and drown out the city with the voices of those vanished millions of birds who are gone . . . but must not be forgotten.

Download Birdsong

Instructions for iOS (iPhone) »

How to play the birdsong on your iPhone

  1. Click the “Download Birdsong” button. This will open a player in a new window of your internet browser.
  2. Click the play button to play the sound file.
  3. Keep this browser window open to keep the sound file active. The file is now playing from your device and is not streaming or using your data allowance.

To play the sound on auto repeat you will need to add the sound to your iTunes library. This can only be done from a desktop or laptop by plugging your phone into your computer using the charging cable. For instructions on how to do this please see instructions here.

Instructions for Android »

How to play the birdsong on your Android device

  1. Click the “Download Birdsong” button. This will open a prompt window with the option to “download” the file.
  2. Click the download option.
  3. From home screen of your Android device click “Apps”.
  4. Click “Tools”.
  5. Click “My Files”.
  6. Click “Downloads”.
  7. Select the file called “hear-the-birdsong-again.mp3”.
  8. Click the play button to play the sound file.

About Gary Moore

Gary Moore is a naturalist and sound recordist, with over 15 years of experience recording wildlife in the field. After graduating from Bangor University in Marine Zoology, Gary worked as a researcher at the BBC before training as a sound engineer. His work has taken him all over the world, recording animals as diverse as humpback whales, a huge variety of birdlife, bears and bees everywhere from the USA and Asia to East Anglia. Gary is also a regular recordist on the BBC’s Springwatch and Autumnwatch series.