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Bird language with Andrew Turbill

Australian birds have 10 vocal expressions/categories

Alarm, ground predator alarm, aerial predator alarm, annoyance , territorial, courtship, mimicry, aggression , begging, contact calling, pain , joy.

Week 1: Bird language – gateway drug for Nature Connection

Learning bird language is first and foremost about reprogramming your brain so that your sensory system engages with the world around you in ways that, once learned cannot easily be unlearned.

Once you start down this road it will change you permanently, you will be cursed to notice things that remain silent and invisible to most. You will begin to notice “what is really there”, removing sensory filters which previously interrupted your direct and full experience of natural environments

Being aware of bird language is not so much about knowing everything that birds are saying to each other, but rather about active listening to the world, so that you become alive to the lives of non-human others

Week 2: Gondwanan Origins & Relating Anatomy to Ecology

Songbird ancestors that survived the Chicxulub meteorite detonation were ground nesting / dwelling birds and possibly were able to use torpor as a strategy to survive. We still find these qualities in birds alive today

Songbird ancestors survived in Australia after Antarctica froze over, acting as a safe haven for the further evolution of songbird lineages which then spread to the rest of the world as late as 20mya

Birds that look similar across the world are not generally closely related but rather the product of concurrent evolution where birds occupy similar habitat niches, leading to similar specializations

A bird’s job description determines the tools of its trade so observation of bird anatomy tells us much about their lifestyle and ecology

Week 3: Fundamentals of Understanding Bird Language for Nature Connection

Introduction to bird language

Soundscapes – learning to re-associate bird song as sound rather than noise

Unique voices, including alarm, bickering, territorial song, begging, hurting, contact calls, mating calls and more

Why learning bird language is like watching a foreign film without subtitles

Re-patterning your brain to an older way of being in the world

Learning how to isolate solitary voices in the crowd using Binocular ears

Week 4: Bird Alarm – Introduction & tracking “invisible” predators across the landscape

Types of alarm

Ground versus aerial predators

Learning how to “go dark” so the source of alarm isn’t always you

Nature News and Concentric Rings of Disturbance

Experience the “baseline” state of an environment for the first time

The basis for tracking predators through the landscape or around your gardens is through becoming an active listener to alarm

Ground alarm versus aerial alarm – recognizing each and knowing where to look for predators

Trickery and coercion – thornbills and lyrebirds

How predators make a living from killing, despite sophisticated alarm systems

Week 5: Wild Trust

Wild animals have no reason to trust us, so how can we develop relationships of trust and respect?

Learning to recognize an invitation for wild trust and how to accept

On becoming humble

Noticing the hidden boundaries of bird territory and anxiety

Why being a practitioner of wild trust can extend your life

Week 6: Keeping a field diary and making Seasonal Calendars

Some birds seem to appear from out of nowhere, stay a while and just as suddenly disappear. Keeping a field diary can help to make sense of these seemingly random bird movements

Many songbirds reserve certain calls for particular times of the year. To track these changing voices we can create a seasonal calendar and learn how characteristic calls correspond with changes in annual climate and ecosystem cycles

Keeping field records takes us well beyond just listening to birds. To truly make sense of bird language we need to become all-round naturalist observers