For a city dweller like me, a typical morning begins with the alarm blaring, maid yelling over the phone, vegetable vendors squawking on the street and shrill horns honking on the busy road. No wonder, I often wake up with an aching head. But amidst this inevitable cacophony, the symphony of birds chirping soothe my headache. I’ve always found birdsongs invigorating.
Factually, birdsongs are a mode of communication amongst birds. Wildlife biologist Shashank Dalvi, who has extensively studied birds in the Western Ghats, says birds communicate with each other acoustically. “They sing for two main reasons. One to establish their territories and the other to attract mates,” Dalvi points out. Generally, it is the males that sing to mark territories and attract females. Understandably, birdsongs are loudest during the breeding season. But these songs are so much more than mere languages of birds. These sounds impact us as well. Here is how.
It is a well-known fact that nature is a stress buster and connecting with it calms us. American biologist E O Wilson’s propounded a theory called ‘biophilia,’ which states that every man has an intrinsic need to spend time with nature. Surprisingly, listening to a birdsong opens our ears to nature’s melody. In fact, sound expert Julian Treasure opines that the sound of birds chirping resets our ears and fine-tunes them to connect with nature. In his Ted Talk, The Four Ways Sound Affects Us, Treasure further explains the psychological benefits of birdsongs. He says birdsongs, just like music, can affect our emotions.
However, birdsongs are different from other music forms. Their uniqueness lies in their randomness. “Depending on the bird species, a song may be simple or complex. Generally, they are long and non-repetitive. But, all birdsongs are stochastic in nature,” Dalvi says. The random pattern of sounds ensures that there is nothing to focus on. Thus, the song neither gets stuck in our heads nor bores us. Treasure makes a point that a bird’s song relaxes us physically but keeps us alert mentally. The sound expert even says that birdsongs can help us focus better.