Can a nightingale’s song help you pass an exam or a blackbird’s twittering encourage you to open a bank account? Sound experts are using it to do both.
They argue the positive results speak for themselves even though researchers say there is little hard scientific evidence to show people respond positively to birds singing. Most support for the theory is anecdotal.
So what are the innovative ways it is being used?
“People find birdsong relaxing and reassuring because over thousands of years they have learnt when the birds sing they are safe, it’s when birds stop singing that people need to worry. Birdsong is also nature’s alarm clock, with the dawn chorus signalling the start of the day, so it stimulates us cognitively.” […]
The effect of birdsong on our brains is being researched by Eleanor Ratcliffe. She is carrying out a three-year study looking at how natural sounds can improve mood and attention […]
An experiment at a primary school in Liverpool - run by “sonic branding” company Condiment Junkie, Glyndwr University and architects Nightingale Associates - found that playing pupils a soundscape of birdsong and other natural sounds made them more alert and better able to concentrate after their lunch break. […]
A fear of needles
Watson created a shortened version of the dawn chorus called Wild Song at Dawn which patients and staff could also listen to on a personal audio player.
The recording was used to calm young patients as they received injections and other treatments, with positive results. […]
While few scientific studies have been done on people’s particular response to birdsong, research has established the restorative effects of natural sounds in general when it comes to stress. Studies have included prescribing woodland walks to combat depression and treat heart problems.
But birdsong is also being experimented with in crowded places where noise levels and anxiety can be high, like transport hubs. […]
The National Trust suggests people listen to birdsong for a few minutes a day to combat low moods. Sound expert Julian Treasure agrees.
“It resets the ears, allows us to hear properly. Most of us walk around with our ears switched off because so much noise is unpleasant. Unlike so many other sounds there’s no maximum exposure to birdsong.”
“Architects need to start designing for our ears as well as our eyes,” says Treasure. “Businesses also need to recognise its importance. Good sound is good business.”