Birds are a very conspicuous part of the animal life that surrounds us. Their singing delights us all and inspires composers and poets. But are they just chirping and twittering, or is there actually a message in their melodious song? Do they seduce with serenades? Do they sing duets? The way birdsong develops seems to offer us wonderful insights into our own language development. Sadly, our noisy human environment is often rather a problem for our songbirds. Just before the bird count weekend and just after Messiaen’s Catalogue d’oiseaux, we stop to think for a while about our feathered friends.
Hans Van Dyck: lecture