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The Songs of Birds

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.


                                         ~ William Wordsworth


A Trill1 of Pleasure


With the sudden nature of spring the cool breezes longed for come in through the windows, and with them, a cacophony of bird songs competing with each other for sound space, the Mourning Dove2, the Tufted Titmouse, the Downy Woodpecker, the Northern Cardinal, the Eastern Towhee, the Gray Catbird, and more.


At times, I have a sense that I’m not in my basement office, but I’m in a treehouse seeing and hearing all that is alive out of doors. I determined to find out who these lovely creatures are. I printed three pages front and back of birds in our area in the hopes of identifying them. A friend visited a few days later and asked about my interest in birds upon seeing my printed pages, he then introduced me to Merlin Bird ID3 and forever my life is changed as I now name nature with accuracy.


Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking—the strain would be too great—but all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest. We cannot give the children these interests; we prefer that they should never say they have learned botany or conchology, geology, or astronomy. The question is not, how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education—but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?4


We have all experienced an eagerness to know; what are ours and our children’s vital interests? A personal inventory may be needed for both our children and us as welcome these days of summer ahead?


Maryellen St. Cyr

Ambleside Founder and Director of Curriculum

1 When birds trill, they sing a sequency of high notes.

2 Dr. Roger Lederer, “It has become common usage for all common names  of birds to be capitalized.”

3 Merlin Bird ID.

4 Charlotte Mason, School Education, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1989),171.