Posted by: Ross Gardner | November 27, 2015

Small Voices


For a small voice of reason,

Gossamer thin

Over street lights,

Traffic lights,


For the gathering strands

Of winter sneaking

Under autumn’s nose.

from ‘Small Voice of Reason (on the arrival of Redwing)’


Perhaps the most often and easily missed of all the bird calls of a British winter is that of the Redwing.  It is a very slight, drawn out whistle that needles thinly through the night-time air, signalling the nocturnal arrival of another migrant from the Arctic north.  A small sound, but incisive enough to penetrate the drone of city traffic, or the sounds of voices gathering outside meeting places – a pub at chucking-out time, a theatre after the show, a football ground at the end of the match.  Migrating at night, such an utterance would ensure close proximity with others of their kind in poor visibility.  Perhaps you will hear it answered from ground-level by birds already arrived – an invitation to join a flock.

One of the many small wonders of bird migration, announced with hardly a whisper.

Redwing (Turdus iliacus).  Ross Gardner 2014.

Redwing (Turdus iliacus). Ross Gardner 2014.

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