Another feather in the RSPB cap

DON T be surprised if you see birds struggling to fly around with CD players strung around their necks and headphones strapped to their furry bonces. But you would be wrong to think that they are members of the jet set keeping up with the latest sounds. I

DON'T be surprised if you see birds struggling to fly around with CD players strung around their necks and headphones strapped to their furry bonces.

But you would be wrong to think that they are members of the jet set keeping up with the latest sounds.

In fact, they are poor little orphans who missed out on a bit of parental guidance. Their new "parent" is the RSPCA which has been busy giving them early Christmas presents.

The scenario about the mobile music players is a little exaggerated, actually - journalistic licence, if you will - but it gives an idea of what the bird-care charity has been up to lately.


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It revealed this week that baby birds in its care at wildlife centres are for the first time being played recordings of the dawn chorus to help them to learn to sing.

The sorry little chaps and chapesses have a disadvantage in life in that they should have learned how to warble from their parents but being reared in captivity means they don't know how to sing properly.

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It's a serious issue. Recent scientific research funded by the RSPCA revealed that captivity-reared birds could benefit from being played songs from birds of their own species before they are released back into the wild.

Without this essential knowledge, the little dickie birds can find themselves all of a flutter. Being a good singer helps them to survive.

For a start, song may affect their success in acquiring a territory. And once the homeland has been set up, females are attracted to males because of their song, and they often prefer males that sing more often, or have longer or more complex songs.

Obviously, being a good singer helps to get the birds, which must be the main reason why young men aspire to become pop stars.

So the RSPCA has leapt into action. CDs of birdsongs - which contain virtually an iPod full of all the calls of birds cared for - are being played twice a day to the hundreds of fledglings under the charity's wing.

I understand that requests cannot be catered for, so there will be no point in them asking to hear The Birdie Song by The Tweets or Disco Duck by Rick Dees and the Cast of Idiots. Anyone wanting to hear such rubbish must be a bit of a twit.

Pickin' A Chicken, a Top Ten hit for Eve Boswell in 1955, would be out of the question, of course. And from the same era, Tom Lehrer's Poisoning Pigeons in the Park would be taboo.

But if there were a playlist for birds may I suggest for inclusion on it Pretty Flamingo by Manfred Mann, Albatross by Fleetwood Mac, Wings Of A Dove by Madness, Bobby Day's Rockin' Robin, Blackbird by the Beatles and Ride a White Swan by T Rex. They were all high fliers in their time.

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