Archive for birdsong

Invitation to Wonder

BookI'm reading the coolest book right now; it's called Invitation to Wonder: A Journey Through the Seasons, by Elizabeth Ayers.

Invitation to Wonder is a delightful meander on nature, cycles, metaphor and physicality, and touches on so many subjects you might not have otherwise connected. I'm just starting to read, but already finding it full of wonder and insight.

Talking about the mystery of birdsong, which apparently only male birds do (and only in the spring to attract a mate), Ayers says that because young birds learn their songs from their fathers, variations build up over the years to create disctinctive regional "dialects".

She says that bird-song is probably more individual artistic creation than species-specific expression, and goes on to report a fascinating biological fact:

"Experiments with zebra finches prove that birds actually rehearse their songs in sleep, using their dream time to hone a whole range of improvzations they'll implement come dawn."

Perhaps I find this fascinating partly because of how I too experience creativity in that liminal dream state. I often wake up with particularly pleasing phrasing for something I'm trying to write about, and Ayer's words make me wonder if I've been "rehearsing" the sounds and word patterns for the prose in my sleep. I know I also sometimes work out a design problem or find a particular shade of color I need for a painting when I'm dreaming, waking up with the answer as I surface into the new day… Isn't it interesting that we share this phenomenon with our bird relatives, too?

But what about you? I'm curious… do you ever work things out your dreams?

This Morning

I awoke this morning to the language of bird song – a new bird to me; its call rich with tonal variation, surprising and fresh against the early sounds of the city, somehow revived me more than the scant few hours of sleep I got.

Yesterday from the train window I noticed lilacs in bloom everywhere – that and oceans of brilliant yellow mustard rolling over the hills like waves.