Birdsong can be good for keeping children alert. An experiment at a primary school in Liverpool found that playing pupils a soundscape of birdsong and other natural sounds made them more alert and better able to concentrate after their lunch break. Introducing young babies to birdsong is a fun way to combine exploring the outdoors with an early exposure to forms of music.
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Researchers have found parallels between the way young birds learn to sing and how babies learn to speak! Young birds master singing in stages. They start with a ‘subsong’ phase – the equivalent of babbling – then move on to fixing the melody, until they get it correct, similarly to the way human babies learn to speak.
Birdsong audio (optional)
About the activity
Step outside and listen to the birds – the best time of day is around sunrise or sunset. See whether you can identify the sounds of more than one species.
Imitate the sounds of the birds you can hear. Encourage younger children to practice these sounds, or see whether they can repeat them back to you.
See whether you can identify which species of birds are making the sounds. Listen out for simple calls, like the ‘coo roo-c’too-coo’ or ‘oh-oo-oor’ of a pigeon. You may want to listen to examples of birdsong audio to help you identify different calls and songs.
By recording or repeating the sounds heard, see if you can put together your own ‘dawn chorus’ of birdsong. It can be repetitive, like chanting the sounds, or without rhythm – that’s the beauty of birdsong!