For The Birds…And Cookiebiters

One of the benefits of being a mildly bitten cookie biter with respectable high frequency thresholds, is that I can lie in bed of a morning and still hear the birds tweeting merrily in the park, even while the wondrous Oticons are sound asleep on the bedside table. I have always taken this for granted, but now I appreciate just how lucky I am. So much so that, lately, I have been seized by a sudden urge to identify what birds are responsible for what songs, before the onset of presbycusis silences the tweeters, along with my uncanny ability to hear loose change rattling in someone’s pocket three miles away.

After studying the RSPB library of birdsongs in enjoyable detail, I now know that the trees of Queen’s Park are full of invisible blackbirds, sparrows and tits. I already knew about the urban magpies because from May onwards, you can hear the distinctive sound of them kicking over bins in the back lanes and erecting scaffolding to build their nests. What struck me was that all of the bird calls I recognised on the recordings evoked instant memories of places, and invariably nice ones, which is probably one part of why listening to birdsong is so relaxing. Long may it continue.

Thankfully I have not yet heard the call of the Peregrine falcon from my bed, but it may just be a matter of time, according to this morning’s news report from the BBC, which has a video of a displaced falcon family nesting on the 24th floor of a tower block. You can tell they’re tough Glaswegian falcons because there’s no string tied to their legs and they’re not wearing those wee leather safety helmets you usually see them with. They’re a bit rough with the wean, too.

Hopefully they’ll find a more conventional place to nest next year, because the last thing you want to be watching your back for while you’re eating your chips outside The Blue Lagoon on a Friday night, is a hungry falcon that isn’t attached to a string.

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6 Responses to “For The Birds…And Cookiebiters”


  1. 1 babs scott July 26, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    There have been a pair of peregrines nesting on the crags above our wee cottage for the past few years. They used to swoop down from their eyrie and fly low along the road at the side of our house looking for prey. Needless to say, that was the point in time, where there was a complete absence of birdsong and a deathly hush descended as the wee birdies cooried up on their branches and hid amongst the foliage.

    We also had a family of wrens nesting next to our patio table a few years ago and had the enormous priviledge of watching the babies fledge along with their mum’s encouraging chirps as we had our lunch al fresco.

    B xx

    PS I find it really hard to sleep anywhere where I CAN’T hear birdsong I’m so used to it now!

    • 2 moiradancer July 27, 2012 at 8:27 am

      The Red Road falcons may be tough, but I definitely wouldn’t want to mess with the Fife ones 😉

      The wee songbirds of our youth are definitely disappearing from the city. I remember the City Chambers and Central Station used to be problematically besieged by starlings at sundown every night and now you barely see them. Magpies used to be a rarity, but they’re literally ruling the roost round here now and will pick a fight with anything. They sound like a very annoying and very loud football rattle, but happily the lower frequency of their clacking is such, that they’re one of the few birds that can be turned down with the hearing aids when necessary…

  2. 3 babs scott July 27, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Nothing beats the racket of a male pheasant calling in his “burds.” I am struggling to even describe the raucousness of a sound which is reminiscent of finger nails down the blackboard combined with an air raid siren. Even without hearing aids it is truly dreadful.

    Starlings are apparently suffering a terrible decline all over Britain which is a shame because they are such amusing characters the way they march around all stiff legged. There’s a Fife word “steckie” which means stiff and ungainly, it always reminds me of starlings! One of the things which was enjoyable about waiting for a train at Central; was listening to their chatter in the rafters; it made up for the noxious diesel fumes.

    • 4 moiradancer July 28, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      ‘Steckie’ that’s a brilliant word for a starling. Reminds me of ‘stookie’, wonder if they’re related? The starlings may have vanished, but there is still a colony of diehard sparrows operating out of the rafters in Central, you can hear them cheeping away loudly up there, as they keep an eye on the proceedings below. They appear on the platform within seconds of anyone dropping anything by accident, and they can expertly open any form of food packaging and consume the contents before the station pigeons come hobbling along on their stumps. Poor old pigeons!

  3. 5 Rose Rodent (@RoseRodent) March 9, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    I have a vast army of birds in the tree.next to my bedroom window and at 5am or earlier every day they seem to call choir practice. This is just about the only noise I can hear unaided (banging doors, dripping water, barking dogs, all the noises of annoyance). I have boxed up the birds for your categorisation and rehoming to a tree where their noise is better appreciated, to where should I address this box?

    • 6 moiradancer April 6, 2014 at 7:41 am

      You can address your box to the Reid Building, Glasgow School of Art. I believe there is a cookie bite woman there who also suffers from hearing irritating background noises at the expense of speech; the sound of a flock of native British songbirds on the loose could be just the thing to take her mind off it.


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