This weekend here in the UK the RSPB is holding a weekend ‘garden watch’ to encourage people to go out into their gardens and watch the birds for an hour. The idea is to gather data about bird populations from across the UK so they can get a better idea of the health of different bird populations.
One of the exciting things about forming new memories is the way that it changes and enriches your ability to perceive the world around you. It doesn’t matter whether that is learning to understand the Spanish words you are hearing, the Chinese characters that you see on a menu… or to identify which birds are singing the songs you are hearing.
I enjoy the sound of birdsong. But at the moment I enjoy it as an amorphous background noise. I can’t identify patterns in it, and I don’t process it in any meaningful way. I’m interested in what it would feel like to sit out in the garden and instead of hearing meaningless background noise… each song I heard set off a chain of memories in my mind: “ah, a Robin… ooh, that sounds like a bullfinch… I haven’t heard one of those before!” Will my experience of the birdsong be richer for being able to relate to it? Will it be poorer? I hope not! Either way, I’m going to find out.
I have found this wonderful course on Memrise that teaches you to identify more than 400 birds by the sound of their calls. So in honour of the RSPB event, we will give a free Memrise T-shirt to the Memriser that comes top of next week’s leaderboard on this course (running from 00:00 GMT on Monday 26th Jan to 00:00 GMT on Monday 2nd Feb).
As a bonus, all competitors also change the way they perceive birdsong forever! Happy learning, and if you’re in the UK, do remember to take time for an hour in the garden this weekend as well!
The winner of our Birdsongs challenge was Student of Life”. And he’s still topping the leader board of that course! He’ll be receiving a fabulous Memrise Tshirt. Would you like one too? Don’t forget to join our latest challenge!