Out in the fresh, green world, where thrushes sing so madly, the sweets of the morning are waiting to be gathered – more than enough for all, low at our feet, higher than we can reach, wide enough even for the travelling soul. Joy rushes in with the rain-washed air, when you fling the window wide to the dawn and lean out into the clear purity before the light, listening to the early “chuck-chuck” of the blackbird, watching the pulse of colour beat higher in the east.
Joy is your talisman, when you slip out from the sleeping house, down wet and gleaming paths into the fields, where dense canopies of cobwebs are lightly swung from blade to blade of grass. Then the air is full of wings; birds fly in and out of the trees, scattering showers of raindrops as they dash from a leafy chestnut or disappear among the inner fastnesses of a fir. Pinions of dark and pinions of day share the sky, and over all are the brooding wings of unknown presences.
The east burns; the hearts of the birds flame into music; the wild singing rises in a swelling rhythm until, as the first long line of light creeps across the meadows, the surging chorus seems to shake the treetops.
Michael McCarthy, commented in The Independent recently on the lack of birdsong at this time of year:
The reason is simple: the business of mating and breeding is over and done with, and song is no longer needed. (An exception is the robin, which carries on singing as it defends its territory right through winter).
Walking to church on Sunday, we passed audibly through at least four robin territories. But there is another bird singing – the starling.
My wife called me into the garden. ‘What is the matter with the starlings?’ They were present in numbers, singing from next door’s birch tree. Not asserting individual territory, for they were happy in each other’s company. But singing they were, alleluia!
Clapping my hands did nothing to disturb them. ‘You’re wasting your time,’ said Janet, and I doubt they’d have heard less than a cannon shot.
They were also mass-murmuring in the lime trees along the road. I expressed my fears for the grapes to a neighbour, but they seem to be off the starlings’ radar. A few years ago there were very few starlings locally, and our grapes faded from their memory; the raiders now are blackbirds who operate singly.
I have wished a bird would fly away,
And not sing by my house all day;
Have clapped my hands at him from the door
When it seemed as if I could bear no more.
The fault must partly have been in me.
The bird was not to blame for his key.
And of course there must be something wrong
In wanting to silence any song.
Robert Frost: A Minor Bird