Sunday, March 28, 2021

5 Minutes in Nature: Listening

Song Sparrow Singing, Washington

We often talk about what we can see, but sometimes it’s enjoyable seeing what you can hear. With songbirds returning for spring in the northern hemisphere, spend five minutes listening to them sing.

(This is part of the 5 Minutes in Nature project, a series of activities that are designed to help you recharge by spending five minutes concentrating on nature. Learn more about the project here, and see past activities here.)

Birds are active in my yard most of the day, but I enjoy going out about a half hour before sunrise. The birds are already up by then and most of my neighbors are still asleep. That lets me enjoy the songbird symphony with significantly fewer distractions. This is what it sounds like in my yard in the early morning.

While you’re out, here are a few things to try:

Try picking out individual birds from the chorus. I find this to be a good relaxation technique, but it also helps me to learn how to identify birds by sound.

Concentrate on the differences in songs between birds. Many songs consist of simple chirps or a few repeating notes, but there are others, like those of some wrens, that contain a couple dozen notes.

Focus on a specific type of bird and try to notice whether their song varies. For example, chickadees are known to add syllables to their songs when they sense danger.

Does listening for birds help you unwind? Feel free to share your own experiences in the comments. And if you would like to get a notice when there’s a new 5 Minutes in Nature activity, subscribe to the mailing list.

(Follow Kevin Ebi's photography on Facebook or Instagram. Prints of his images are available through

No comments: