Bird Sounds Soar Above Holiday Classics in the Pop Music Charts!

This surprise hit features real tweets from precious birds recorded in the wild.

Jan 3, 2022
Bird Sounds Soar Above Holiday Classics in the Pop Music Charts! | This surprise hit features real tweets from precious birds recorded in the wild.

Here’s some really chirpy news! Songs of Disappearance, a new album of the birdsong and calls of 53 endangered local birds, flew up to the third spot in Australia’s ARIA music charts over the holiday. This is a surprise hit that overtook songs from popular voices like The Weekend, Michael Bublé, Mariah Carey and even Abba! And it has made history, reports BBC News Australia, for being the first album of its kind to rank in the top five.

As the introduction to this animated video illustrated by indigenous Australian artist, Mervyn Street, explains, the title track of the album: “celebrates the incredible diversity of the Australian soundscape, and highlights what we stand to lose without taking action. Be immersed in a chorus of iconic cockatoos, the buzzing of bowerbirds, a bizarre symphony of seabirds, and the haunting call of one of the last remaining night parrots.”

Arranged by Australian violinist Simone Slattery, this track uses all 53 species, including the songs of the extremely rare swift parrot and some vulnerable migratory shorebirds such as the bar-tailed godwit reported NBC News.

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Slatterly told the Guardian that some of the sounds will shock listeners as they are extremely percussive. Think clicks, rattles, squawks and deep base notes. The track ends with the morse code-like song of the enigmatic night parrot whose call was unknown to science until 2013.

A team effort by bird lovers
This album is the fruit of a collaboration between several nature experts and conservation groups. These include acclaimed nature recordist David Stewart, the Bowerbird Collective, Birdlife Australia, Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Mangkaja Arts, an indigenous Australian arts resource agency in Western Australia. 

Dave Stewart has spent half a century recording birdsong in the wild. A scientist who specializes in capturing the sounds of nature, during his voyages to remote parts of Australia, he recorded the songs of thousands of the country’s feathered friends. He sometimes spent hours in the bush waiting for a seconds-long soundbite.

The album was produced by CDU doctoral candidate Anthony Albrecht to coincide with the release of a book, The Action Plan for Australian Birds by CDU and BirdLife Australia. The book’s editor, Stephen Garnett, an environmental scientist at CDU,  told NBC News that the album is a way to get people to appreciate what they are likely to lose unless they act fast, saying that it really touches the hearts of people. 

Echoing this sentiment, Paul Sullivan, CEO of Birdlife Australia, the country’s largest bird conservation organization, told Australia’s Music Network, as quoted on yahoo!life that "This album is a very special record with some rare recordings of birds that may not survive if we don't come together to protect them." 

Sullivan shared with the BBC that it has been heartening to see bird enthusiasts showing governments and businesses that Australians care about these important birds. 

Proceeds of the album will be donated to BirdLife Australia, supporting the conservation of the estimated one in six local bird species that is endangered. According to the CDU study behind the above-mentioned book, this comes to 210 out of approximately 1,300 local bird species. The study found that climate change, specifically severe droughts and heatwaves, was pushing species closer to extinction. Meanwhile, the massive bushfires of 2019 and 2020 devastated their habitats.                                            

Australians care about their country’s precious avian voices
That this album became one of the most listened to albums over the holiday period speaks volumes about how locals care about their country’s rare and precious birds. 

BirdLife Australia see the album’s success as proof that Australians will not allow these precious avian voices to be silenced.

Album producer, Anthony Albrecht, told Forbes of his joy that Songs of Disappearance resonated with so many Australians, while seeing this a logical reflection of recent national events: “In some ways, it’s not surprising, because I believe Australians generally are so much more attuned now to the environmental crisis that we’re all facing — and that the unique and incredible species that also call Australia home are facing.” 

Albrecht told NBC that he hopes that other artists would follow their lead, telling stories to connect people to nature and get involved: “If people are emotionally connected to the environment and the issues that are impacting it, they will be more likely to take action,” he said. “This project is all about the birds — , they are the artists and the musicians.”

It’s only appropriate that the album charts,” Stephen Garnett told the Guardian. “Conserving threatened species is an emotional act. It’s much more than about biology. It’s about a much deeper attachment to our environment, and this is a way of reaching that in a way that words on paper don’t.”

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Daphne has a background in editing, writing and global trends. She is inspired by trends seeing more people care about sharing and protecting resources, enjoying experiences over products and celebrating their unique selves. Making the world a better place has been a constant motivation in her work.