Birdsong has brought solace to many during the pandemic, with amateur birdwatching having gained in popularity.
The huge reduction of traffic, and resulting decrease in noise pollution during our lockdowns has had a profound and uncontemplated effect on our immediate and wider environments. Nature has taken on long-forgotten healing powers, as we discovered its stress-busting effect.
With the world grinding to a halt we've been able to take stock of our wider environs. We've paid more attention to the subtleties of nature and enjoyed time spent outdoors, while digesting the stark impact that we've made on the world around us. Birds have adjusted by making a quieter song as we realise how much they've had to adapt to the thrum and haze associated with urbanisation and industrialisation.
They've had to become louder to try and communicate over the din we create when claiming their habitats as our own. With less than a quarter of earth's landmass (excluding Antarctica) classed as wilderness today our appetite for taking over the wilderness shows no signs of abating. As we take the habitats, so we take the animal inhabitants with it.
A commonly acknowledged outcome of the hush of lockdown has been an increased awareness of birdsong, in both urban and country settings. The Natural History Museum of London confirmed that nearly three quarters of people have reported hearing louder bird song during the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK.
With the slower pace of life associated with home-working, nature has become an outlet for many who had previously never had the time to enjoy outdoor pursuits. The RSPB confirmed that bird watching has actively increased during lockdown. As restrictions lifted, their bird reserves saw an increased number of visitors of all ages, many visiting for the first time.
There is a wonderful irony in quieter birdsong being the catalyst for us noticing them more; their agile adjustment to the reduction of human noises means they no longer have to strain to be heard. Their softer song has piqued our collective interest in their beauty, with many people claiming it comforted and calmed them during a time of crisis. Let us return the favour and value our feathered friends for all that they are, and raise our efforts to study, preserve and protect them.