Somewhere, always, the sun is rising, and somewhere, always, the birds are singing.
That is the opening line of The Singing Life of Birds by Donald Kroodsma, and it is the first glimpse of the passion that he has for birds, and especially birdsong. His passion is a thread that runs through the entire book, and a passion that, if you don't already, you'll soon share after reading this book. It is a book that should get you to ask that most important question the next birdsong you here... Why?
Part of the problem with reading about birdsong is that, for most of us, sound doesn't translate well to reading. I mean you can't see birdsong. Right? Wrong. Kroodsma opens the book with a primer on sonograms and with the accompanying CD shows you how to "listen" with your eyes. Kroodsma then takes you on a journey through his passion and through it shows us what we believe we know about birdsong, and how little we know. I'll have to admit that before reading this book, even though I was aware of bird dialects and the complexity of birdsong, that I thought a Robin's song was a Robin's song was a Robin's song. A short walk with Kroodsma through his neighbourhood reveals a glimpse into the complexity of the Robin's song. Or rather into different individual Robin's songs, for each one differs.
One thing that worries me about this book is that I have begun thinking about Parabolic microphones, Digital recorders, and Sonogram software. Always dangerous. Fortunately, or unfortunately (depending on your take on obsession) Kroodsma includes excellent resources in the book on how to get started recording birds voices, where to find the software and what equipement you need.
All in all, this is an excellent book that I heartily recommend. Just beware. There just might be an obsession looming in your life.
Now, I wonder if Leah has ever wondered if Snow Buntings each have their own song?