Spring has come to Britain at last! It is April, when:
|smale fowles maken melodye,|
according to the poet Chaucer. It's a time when birds fight for their territories, find their mates, build their nests and lay their eggs. Outside my house, the favourite visitors are starlings, magpies, crows, pigeons and blue tits. I'm sure we will see new young ones in the course of time.
While working on my Angelio books, I have turned up a lot of interesting research regarding birds. I thought I would share some of it with you here. Here are 10 interesting facts:
1. A common trick for a pet goldfinch was to draw up a tiny gold bucket on a chain to get its drink of water.
2. "Whistling bullfinches" could be taught to sing a selection of folk tunes.
3. Castrati were taught to imitate birdsong in their vocal performances.
4. In Sufism, the language of the birds is a mystical language of angels. (See The Conference of the Birds by 12th century Persian poet Farid-al Din Attar).
5. In medieval France, the "language of the birds" was a secret language used by troubadours.
6. The male song thrush has a repertoire of over 100 phrases, which he can repeat.
7. In Greek mythology, crows were originally white, but were turned black as a punishment for betraying him by the god Apollo.
7. By tradition, the nightingale sings with a thorn pressed to its breast.
8. The mistle thrush was said to speak 7 languages.
9. Many people tried to catalogue birdsong as musical notation.
10. The school for musically gifted children in Vienna was known as the Cage of Nightingales.
What interesting bird facts do you know?