Ways of Listening: Birdsong in Science, Music and Poetry

A free educational resource exploring the different ways that scientists, musicians and poets have sought to understand the abiding mystery of birdsong


Engaging with the natural world has never been more urgent. The first aim of this educational resource is to give the next generation the skills to listen, notice and actively respond to the changes that are taking place in their environment.

Creative Learning

By exploring how human beings have thought and written about the natural world, the resource provides young people with the tools to analyse, and robustly critique, the human-centred attitudes that have led to a biodiversity crises in which one in eight species of birds now face extinction (State of the World’s Birds, 2018).


Throughout the pandemic, many of us have been listening more to birdsong. As young people readjust to life after lockdown, this learning resource seeks to encourage interactions with nature that have been shown to restore attention and memory functions, alleviate the symptoms of depression, and diminish feelings of isolation by re-connecting us with the world in which we live.

 "Up this green woodland lets softly rove
 And list the nightingale - she dwelleth here
 Hush let the wood gate softly clap - for fear
 The noise may drive her from her home of love"
- John Clare, 'The Nightingale's Nest' (1832)

This project has been funded by Creative Scotland. With special thanks also to the University of Bristol, the Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project, the Wordsworth Trust, the British Association for Romantic Studies, the British Library and the School of Scottish Studies.

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