I was on my way to the car one morning last week, and as I rounded the car to open the door, I noticed the repetitive trill of a bird. It was loud, persistent, and close. Stopping to listen, I swiveled around, searching the early morning street. There it was, a house finch perched atop a street light, its red throat catching the gleam of the sun breaking through the trees to the east.
There are other birds in my area I've stopped to listen to in recent years. Some of them have become familiar to me in the spaces I travel. There was a mockingbird, for example, that I knew I could stop and watch and listen to on the way to school at a certain time and on a certain street each day. There are Phoebes at one of the parks. There are hummingbirds that sit atop two different trees that I pass day to day. I know the cry of the Red-Shouldered Hawk when it is in the trees out my window. And twice this year, I was unexpectedly treated to the raucous sounds (and bright green flash) of a group of wild parrots passing overhead.
The house finch I spotted on my way to the car is one that normally sits in the back of my house atop a tree just beyond the line of our fence. During certain months of the year, I know it will be there, perched atop the highest branch. I hear its song through my window throughout the morning most days.
Learning to listen to and identify bird songs and bird calls can really open your ears to the world around you. But when you take what you hear outside your windows and compare it to pieces of classical music, you've got the makings of a fascinating music-based science project. As you listen, you'll discover that composers throughout history have integrated bird sounds in their music. And as you try and deconstruct what you are hearing and identify the difference between interpretation and imitation, you'll find yourself listening to classical music with new levels of appreciation.
- How Tweet It Is: Bird Songs in Classical Music (Science Buddies Difficulty Level: 6)