Friday, March 20, 2009


I like Blackbirds. Though they are loud and hotheaded, I'm always happy to hear them sing because to me that's the call of spring. It's been a couple of weeks now since they started singing their recognizable song in my neighbourhood. Warmer days are approaching!

When I lived in another part of Amsterdam I woke up one morning to find feathers lying in the hallway. I braced myself, thinking my cat Noodles had caught a bird again and took it home as a 'gift' for me, and the thought of having to discover yet another dead bird in my house made me slightly sick. I walked into the living room that was decorated with more feathers (and bird poo) and on top of my bookshelves sat a young female Blackbird, alive and well. With uneven wing feathers and half a tail but rather calm under the circumstances. My cat walked around with a 'me know nothing' face, completely ignoring the bird. My pal Eip helped to catch the Blackbird and without too much trouble we could set it free.
I wondered how Noodles, being a small cat, was able to catch such a relatively large bird. And how she managed to squeeze herself and the bird simultaneously through that small cat door.

I read about Blackbirds in last Saturday's paper. Dutch linguistic Jelle Zuidema does research on the evolution of language. He compared the human language to the songs of birds and discovered that the Blackbird's 'language' is the closest to ours. 'The Nightingale knows more complex songs and improvises notes but the rhythm stays the same. The way a Blackbird finishes a song depends on the notes at the beginning of the song. It's like the use of verbs, which in our language determines how a sentence ends'.

Here some photo's of that Blackbird on the bookshelves:

...Flash! Sorry bird.
Source: Het Parool newspaper, March 14, 2009. Pic: The MacGillivray Art Collection, Natural History Museum

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