The RSPB BGBW 2: Birds, the universal unifier

‘The Birds Flew by’ Etching by Rachel Everitt

This is part 2 of a four part special celebrating the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2011.

Following on from my blog last week #RSPB #BGBW part 1: Give garden birds a go I’m still asking will you join with Greener Leith and half a million others for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2011? If you haven’t already read it, just click on the link above to see why you should take part and why garden birds are great. It’s a multimedia extravaganza.

Now I’d like to diversify from garden birds and put it to you that birds are a universal unifier, a bit like music or stories. We all have different tastes, you just need to find your bird. There’s one out there for you I’m sure.

If you’re into horror, super intelligent tool bearing crows peck out lambs eyes. Or there’s the butcher bird who decorates a ‘trophy tree’ by empaling freshly murdered insects, caterpillars and small mammals on thorns, I’m glad he wasn’t decorating my tree this Christmas. 

If twilight tales are your twitch there’s a bird who’s out hunting for fresh blood every night in the cover of darkness. He has a rotating head and if it was the same size as a human head, his eyes would be as big as oranges. Yes, you guessed it, it’s the owl. I can’t decide if I like little owls or barn owls the best. Such wonderful, mysterious and beautiful birds.

Are stunts and special effects your birdie bag? Well check out a male Osprey throwing fish to his mate mid air. Or a sparrowhawk turning through trees at speed through the forest. Or the Gannets plunge diving at 60mph, shocking! 

‘Plunge Dive’ Emily Dodd 2009

You love musicals? Well, the capercallie’s mating dance is a rare treat and and there are so many great bird singers to appeal to all musical tastes from acid jazz to folk, even drum and bass.

Do ‘geek to chic’ transformations turn you on? If so there’s the classic ugly duckling to swan transformation and tribulation.

Is a period drama and a glass of chardonnay your bill? Well there are plenty of illegitimate children (and subsequent murders relating to) the Catherine Cookson cuckcoo so get your beak into that.

Born romantic? Love, actually, is all around with the seabirds. Puffins come back to the same nesting spot, to the same mate, year after year. They tap their beaks together as a kiss, awwww!

We all love real life kick ass monsters. I’m venturing abroad for this one and it’s worth it. The secretary bird is a ferocious monster of a bird of prey who runs around on long legs and kills lizards and snakes by stamping on them. You can’t say that’s not impressive. Just check this out:

I’m sure you have many more birdy stories,  please post them on the blog.

Now who’s with me?

The good news is Twitter users @GdnEdinburgh, @WOLCT, @wildedinburgh, @cladygirl4, @12books12months and @craftygreenpoet have all said they’ll do the watch with @greenerleith (well @craftygreenpoet might do it in a park, the rest are definite!).

Thanks to @EdinSpotlight for promoting the watch in Edinburgh and to @NaturalScotland for helping with the national drive. 

Special thanks to @thespurtle, @milomclaughlin, @BeatbloggerMike and @allytibbitt for encouragement and to anyone else who’s passed this on, liked it on facebook or retweeted it on twitter. 

Talented Sound Artist Emma Quale is now accompanying me to the park and will be recording and editing a podcast for part 4 (thank you Emma!).

So what’s Next? The RSPB BGBW 3: How birds open doors (on meeting celebrities)

Otter envy with Simon King, presenting puffins to the Queen and a suprise in store with world Gannet expert Brian Nelson.

The RSPB BGBW 4: Doing it in a park for Greener Leith

Here’s where I report on the watch and include your tweets and stories if you’ll join me, please let us know if you’re taking part.

I’ve had some polite “birds aren’t really my thing” type responses. Lets hope part 2 will get more people on board. Or if not, Part 3 features the Queen and Boobies so you got to look forward to that….

Written by Emily Dodd


  • Adele

    I'm with you Emily, birds are fab. I was walking home along Ferry Road during the rush hour the other night, and in amongst the hulabuloo of the traffic there was a black bird in a tree busting a gut to be heard. I'd much rather hear that than diesel engines any day. You've gotta love them.

  • Emily Dodd

    Thanks Adele, sounds like a lovely moment of calm within the storm. Blackbirds really do give it some, such beautiful singers (: