Cover image for Music of the birds : a celebration of bird song
Music of the birds : a celebration of bird song
Elliott, Lang.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., [1999]

Physical Description:
135 pages : color illustrations ; 25 cm + 1 audio disc (digital ; 4 3/4 in.)
Presents the songs and calls of more than seventy North American birds. Includes audio compact disc featuring songbird concerts and solos.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL698.5 .E555 1999 TEXT Book and Software Set Non-Fiction Area

On Order



We humans have strong emotional responses to the voices of the birds. Their songs can soothe the spirit and bring joy to our lives. They can also, like Poe's raven, arouse darker feelings. Listening to their melodic notes, we wonder, are birds really making music? Are they singing only to one another, or do they sing to us too. Poets and musicians have borrowed from and celebrated the songs of birds in their work. Scientists have been inspired by bird song and analyzed it, solving some of its mysteries but leaving many others untouched. MUSIC OF THE BIRDS tells why birds sing and which are th finest singers. It celebrates the many varieties of bird song: flight songs, night songs, and dawn choruses. It explores the messages of poets and shows how to appreciate every bird song we hear, no matter how beautiful or mundane. Music of the Birds will be valuable to anyone interested in birds, from beginner to expert.

Author Notes

Lang Elliott is a nature recordist, widlife photographer, and nature writer.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Reviewing this book while listening to its accompanying CD was at times a magical experience. It is not so much a scientific study of the biological meaning of birdsong as an introduction to the beauty of birdsong. The aesthetic pleasure of listening to birds sing is often forgotten in popular field guides to identifying birdsong, and the author produced this work to fill that vacuum. The text does not ignore the behavioral elements of birdsong but weaves scientific explanations of the meanings of birdsong with lyrical descriptions of the singing and quotes from poets such as William Wordsworth and Robert Browning and essayists such as Henry David Thoreau and John Muir. Not just celebrating the most accomplished songsters, such as the thrushes and wrens, the author also finds much to appreciate in the more insectlike vocalizations of the sparrows and flycatchers. Elliott's stunning photographs of birds in full song alone would make this book hard to resist, but when combined with the text and superb CD, they create a package that every library will find difficult to keep on the shelf. --Nancy Bent

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 8
Why Birds Singp. 11
Nature's Finest Songstersp. 23
Lesser Musiciansp. 49
Flight Songs and Night Songsp. 65
Dawn Chorusp. 89
Messages of the Poetsp. 99
Spirit of Listeningp. 111
The Compact Discp. 122
Photo and Sound Creditsp. 124
Sourcesp. 126
Index of Speciesp. 135