Well, we don’t like all birdsong. We like listening to the birdsong of certain species which produce melodious, music-like sounds which are nonetheless high frequency and very quiet. And they have a certain complexity which makes them more like music. We don’t like the sounds of magpies particularly because they are raucous and rough and non-melodic. Also, we associate the sounds of magpies with magpies of course and magpies are pretty rough and ready birds. They are quite aggressive. They are good survivalists and I admire them, but they don’t make nice sounds.
Study – birdsong to lift spirits
You may read about the recent study which is currently all over the Internet. It explains how listening to birdsong for a few minutes each day may hold the key to feeling chirpy i.e., put you in a better mood and alleviate some of the depression that you might be suffering from.
Scientists found that watching birds and enjoying their chorus can lift people’s spirits for eight hours. Birdsong can even ease depression.
Birdsong has a role in treating people with mental health problems say the researchers at King’s College London.
The study asked 1,292 people, three times a day whether they could see or hear birds and about the mental well-being. They found an association between listening to birdsong and improvements in mood and happiness.
The researchers decided that birdsong alone helped with a feeling of well-being, and it wasn’t to do with general environmental factors such as the presence of trees or plants et cetera.
They actually used a smartphone app called the Urban Mind app. It was developed by King’s College, the landscape architects J&L Gibbons and an arts foundation called Nomad Projects.
The participants completed 26,856 assessments with the app during the study period which went from April 2018 to October 2021.
The reason why the right kind of birdsong is so pleasant to people, in my view, is because humans are connected to nature. Many humans have become disconnected from nature, but we are part of nature. We come from nature. We evolved with nature, and it is in our DNA. It is primordial.
And our ancestors lived in nature, and we have, in the words of the Natural History Museum “a genetic the built-in preference for nature, having spent thousands of years roaming the wilderness before constructing towns and cities.”
That’s the first reason: it is in our DNA to like it. The second reason is linked to the first namely that we like music. We find music restorative and calming. It pushes the right button in our brain.
But this, too, is probably linked to the sounds of nature. Birdsong is one of the sounds of nature.
One of the most successful soundtracks ever to a film is the one by Hans Zimmer for the film Interstellar. It is the sound of the universe. It is the sound of the infinite and the evolution of humankind, the mystery of the universe, the blackness of the universe.
It is the sound of the emptiness of the universe and the unknown. It is the sound of the loneliness of humankind if we are the only creatures of our type in the vastness of this black space. We might be.
I would urge anybody to listen to it because you will probably go back to it and listen to it again. But it touches the soul and I think birdsong does the same thing or something similar.
For me, birdsong is not as powerful as Hans Zimmer’s music, but they both do go deep into the body, and they touch something primordial and tweak it. We need it. It is in our DNA.