July 2022

Improve your listening skills.

The district I live in is adjacent to a natural area with fields, forests, and fens. I used to walk there regularly, and I noticed that the bird population changed over the years. One year the bird choir was singing enthusiastically; the other year, it was almost non-existent. 

I heard a probably little bird twittering his heart out at a certain point on the main path. A blackbird had its territory a little further on, and his song was the loudest in that area.

Since I had a dog, my whistling wasn't too bad, so I started to imitate these birds one day. I made a mistake here and there, and I discovered that the birds responded to my whistling. They were quiet for a little while, probably listening from which crazy bird the sound was coming, and then they reacted in different ways, depending on my tone and variation of whistling. Sometimes a complete bird choir joined the happening, especially in spring.

I varied my whistling melodies, and sometimes that caused an aggressive answer from the little bird in particular, as to say: get out of my territory. At least, that was my understanding of its tone of voice. 

It became my guilty pleasure (another one) to stir up the bird population now and again, and I found out that crows were announcing my arrival as soon as I entered the area. Some birds followed me, probably to the borders of their territory. 

Over the years, I improved my listening skills and whistling skills too. I hardly ever saw these singing birds, and since I was walking, I didn't try to spot them. So, I don't even know which birds I was talking to. I'm not a bird watcher, after all.

These exercises made me aware of a few things:

These exercises made me aware of a few things:

  • How fortunate I am to have nature in the vicinity
  • Birds do not form a background choir; they are a bunch of nature's soloists. 
  • Setting yourself to really listen to the birds is part of enjoying nature.
  • Not saying anything while walking in nature (alone), not even to yourself, is an art to be mastered.
  • Tuning in to the sound of certain birds and trying to imitate them opens a new universe. Somehow connecting directly to wildlife is an extraordinary experience. The birds' reaction is often hilarious.
  • It is a pity that I still don't understand what they are saying back to me. Maybe better for my peace of mind.
  • Bird Whistling requires focus and effort. It keeps your mind off other matters. 
  • It is healthy, reduces stress, and improves your mood.
  • It is free of charge.

If you think this falls under the Lamp Post Hugging category (the drunk amongst us know all about it), you are gravely mistaken. I am a down-to-earth person, and I am serious.  This little free stress-reducing activity enhances your listening skills. The overkill of words with which we are bombarded daily sets talking as a standard. Communication can be defined as talking or listening past each other as closely as possible.  

The talking gets sufficient attention. But wouldn't the world be better when we were more adept at listening?

Bird whistling is an effective means of improving your listening skills. 

The good thing about it is that you can do that anonymously, it doesn't cost you a dime, and it is good for you in several ways. 

There are a few notes, though. If you live in the centre of a city, you'll find it hard to hear singing birds. Try a park if it's not too far away.

Secondly, you have to be capable of whistling. But you can learn that. Finding a good teacher wouldn't be too difficult.

A strong beginners motto to follow is:

Talk 50 % less and listen 50 % more.

I come to think of the 1967 Oscar-winning musical film Dr. Doolittle (DINO-stuff), a doctor who learns to communicate with the animals. 

I am inspired by the famous lead song 'Talk to the animals':

 I'll study every living creature's language

So I can speak to all of them on sight
If friends say, "Can she talk in Crab or Pelican?"
You'll say, "Like hell she can."
And you'll be right.

(one of the verses)

I will stick to a dog and birds for now. I'm not ready for a crab or a pelican yet.

Have lovely musical walks.

Warm greetings,





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