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Birdwatching With Your Eyes Closed: An Introduction to Birdsong [Hardcover]

Simon Barnes
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
Price: 12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

3 Nov 2011
Learning birdsong is not just a way to become a better bird-spotter. It is tuning in: a way of hearing the soundtrack of the planet earth...

Why do birds sing? What are they trying to say?

Birdsong is not just about natural history. It is also about our history. We got melody from the birds as we got rhythm from the womb. Birds are our music: they teach us to express emotion and beauty in sound. The first instruments ever made were bird-flutes.

This vital book with a free podcast takes you from winter into deepest spring, teaching you to how recognise song after song as the chorus swells. You start with robin, and end up listening to nightingales.

Along the way, you will learn something of the science of birdsong the difference between song and call, the physiology of songbirds, what birdsong tells us about evolution, and indeed the very beginnings of life itself. The aim is to give you a flying start in birdsong so that, after reading this book, you'll be listening to order, not chaos, to Bach, not white noise. You will be more aware of the wild world, and better able to understand it.

Frequently Bought Together

Birdwatching With Your Eyes Closed: An Introduction to Birdsong + How to be a Bad Birdwatcher + A Bad Birdwatcher's Companion
Price For All Three: 37.45

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Short Books Ltd; 1st Edition edition (3 Nov 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907595473
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907595479
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 265,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description

Review

Most of us can see, but not everyone looks. Most of us can hear, but not everyone listens. This book will help you do both. And, above all, it will tell you how to enjoy. --Bill Oddie

A gem... All day, I've been fighting the urge to drop everything so I can devour this eloquent book in one siting... exquisite --The Guardian

He'll tune your ears to winter's lonely voices - robins, wrens, long-tailed tits - before preparing you for the exultant sounds of spring --The Times

Become a bird listener, says Barnes, and tune in to the special podcast of airborne song that comes free with this book, and you will better understand the lives of birds and identify the wild notes that first inspired human music. A delight. --Iain Finlayson, Saga

A beguiling love song to our feathered friends. Brilliant. --Rosemary Goring, Glasgow Herald

An excellent book from the irrepressible Simon Barnes... a must-buy for any birdwatcher. --The Times

Do you struggle with identifying birds by song? Yes? Good! Then there's a delightful journey, just waiting for you thanks to this book... This spring should be a special one for you. --Birds Magazine

He'll tune your ears to winter's lonely voices - robins, wrens, long-tailed tits - before preparing you for the exultant sounds of spring --The Times

This is very good indeed. Barnes's approach is humorous, chatty and pragmatic... He can't do the listening for you, but boy, does he help you sharpen your ears --Irish Times

He'll tune your ears to winter's lonely voices - robins, wrens, long-tailed tits - before preparing you for the exultant sounds of spring --The Times

About the Author

Simon Barnes is the multi-award-winning chief sportswriter for the Times. He is also a novelist, nature writer and horseman, and the author of a dozen books, including the bestselling How to be a Bad Birdwatcher and The Meaning of Sport (Short Books). He lives in Suffolk with his family.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely introduction to birdsong 27 Dec 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
This introduction to bird song is charming and informative. Whether it is the charm or the information that is more important will probably depend on how much you know already. I have been identifying birds by their song for a long time. There is something very satisfying about thinking 'I know who YOU are' without having to see the bird. Because I birdwatch with my eyes closed already it is the charm of this book that strikes me, but I must say I really admire the way that the author makes the characteristics of each song more memorable. I also enjoy the facts about bird song that are included with the descriptions. The Kindle version is amazingly cheep (sorry for the pun).

I wholly recommend this book, and the MP3 that you can download to accompany it, for beginners and the experienced alike.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New World of Birdsong 3 Feb 2012
Format:Hardcover
In this enchanting book Simon Barnes has opened my ears to the magic of birdsong. I've always loved it, of course - who wouldn't? But to be honest I'd rarely stopped to listen - really listen. He is the best kind of teacher - easy to understand, mega-enthusiastic, and he somehow comes across as kind and patient too. And so suddenly I'm far more aware than I've ever been of the birdsong all around me whether I'm just popping out for something, in the garden or on walks. Aware that this is the best time of year for a beginner to begin to hear and differentiate the various songs. So many, so beautiful - and, like learning a language - gradually I'm beginning to know whose is whose. Just brilliant.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kindle book with sound 25 Dec 2011
By Geoff W
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book is described as having a CD or podcast supplied but you may be puzzled like me as to how you get the 'CD' for the kindle version.
The answer is simple - go to the publisher'e website [...]
and download the podcast from there or through itunes.
At the time I write this the kindle version is on offer at a bargain 1.49
The book is as pleasurable to read as the songs are to listen.
and this review from the Guardian sums it up:

'Those of you who wish to learn this particular skill or who wish to share your joy at hearing birdsong will be thrilled that a new book and podcast has just been published: Birdwatching With Your Eyes Closed: An Introduction to Birdsong by Simon Barnes [2011; Short Books Ltd (London): Amazon UK; Amazon US]. The goal of this book and podcast is to help people become adept at identifying common British birds from hearing their songs. "Learning birdsong is not just a way to become a better bird-spotter", the author writes. "It is tuning in: a way of hearing the soundtrack of the planet earth."

Thanks to the efforts of the RSPB, this book is accompanied by a few measures of the earth's soundtrack in the form of a 27-minute podcast filled with the songs and calls of 66 common British birds. This podcast consists of introductory comments by Mr Barnes followed by audio clips of bird songs and calls. The birdsongs are presented in the same order they appear in the book, beginning with the robin's "thin, sweet song" and ending with the lofty melody of the nightingale.'
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A recipe of reconnection. 4 Feb 2012
By Stewart M TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Birdsong is a important aspect of the world. Most (if not all) cultures have used the variation in bird song during the year as a marker of change. Birds and their song play a central role in many mythologies.

An underlying assumption of this book is that most people no longer listen to birds - then may hear them, but they don't really listen. This book provides a season by season guide for two years of bird-listening. It's probably questionable that people will use the book in this way - but it's an ingenious way of organising the book. Taking us from birds we probably already know, to ones we may have over looked.

A key issue with a book about birds is that it is difficult to convert bird song into text - called the `Pee-oo' issue in this book for the number of birds who are meant to make this call. A podcast of all the bird song mentioned in this book is available on the web, but I'm not convinced that this will be successful with demographic this book seems to be aimed at. Of course I could be completely wrong about this because I read the book and I found the podcast excellent!

Clearly this is a book about birdsong - or more accurately how to identify birds by their song - but it is also something else as well. It is also a continuation of the authors attempts to show how we can reconnect with the natural world. This is a theme that runs through much of his writing, and is most clearly shown in the appropriately titled "How to Be Wild".

I think that the book is aimed at the less experienced birder who wishes to move deeper into the subject, but this does not mean it will not appeal to more experienced birdwatchers. The more experienced may take pleasure from the style and passion of the writing rather than its factual content, and, as ever, Barnes is an excellent story teller.

Recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Birdwatching with Your Eyes Closed 27 Feb 2012
By digit
Format:Hardcover
This is a bird book with a difference, aimed at the nature lover who is unsure about identifying the songs of birds or wary of trying to identify birds by their song. It is written in an easy, light-hearted style so is an enjoyable read. It is most suitable for the beginner birdwatcher who wants to take the first step towards bird identification by listening to their calls and songs. I am neither a beginner nor fully proficient and I loved this Simon Barnes book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
An excellent book - an easy read and very informative. I am an amateur bird watcher and I have found this book most helpful. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Laura, Exeter
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT BARNES
You cannot fail to loves Simon Barnes Work & to add to his Glory he supports the Gunners - CUP FINALISTS
Published 4 months ago by Ron Hallen
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
Put into words exactly how I feel when I walk around the countryside! Learnt a fair bit and also confirmed quite a bit that I had already learnt for myself. A wonderful book. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Raffers
4.0 out of 5 stars A helpful guide
This hand book puts you in touch with sounds you already know and gives them meaning. It's also amusingly written.
Published 6 months ago by Neil Croll
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book and accompanying podcast
This book (and accompanying podcast) really helped with the identification of birds via their song in our back garden. Read more
Published 6 months ago by benjurama
5.0 out of 5 stars Birdie Songs
I bought this as a 70th Birthday gift for my husband. He loves it! He has always been a fan of Simon Barnes and it is well written.
Published 7 months ago by Lorrie
2.0 out of 5 stars Help for everryone
Written with an understanding of the beginner, and gently advancing from there. Just what I wanted. I must take my time and not expect to grasp everything first time.
Published 13 months ago by Richard K Sledge
3.0 out of 5 stars Not associated with phonetics
I have been interested in rendering phonetic descriptions of bird calls and songs for decades and although I understand that one listener may register the sound differently to... Read more
Published 14 months ago by R. K. Norman
5.0 out of 5 stars Listening in the dark
A really useful and delightful book on identifying bird song but, more than that, a wise and loving tribute to the power and beauty of Nature.
Published 17 months ago by Susan S Edwards
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb book
I'm into birdwatching so bought this specifically to help me refine my aural identification skills, and it's helped helped immensely, but also contains loads of other interesting... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Arnie Smith
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