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Endangered birds might knock songbird Swift off ARIA chart

Nui Te Koha, December 13, 2021 6:30PM Kids News

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Songbird Taylor Swift’s new album is getting some unexpected competition from a very unlikely source: Songs of Disappearance, a collection of birdsong from endangered Australian birds. The album might just debut in the Top 10 of this week’s ARIA album chart, potentially knocking a major pop star like Swift off their perch. Picture: AFP media_cameraSongbird Taylor Swift’s new album is getting some unexpected competition from a very unlikely source: Songs of Disappearance, a collection of birdsong from endangered Australian birds. The album might just debut in the Top 10 of this week’s ARIA album chart, potentially knocking a major pop star like Swift off their perch. Picture: AFP

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An album of tweets and chirps from 53 of Australia’s most threatened bird species is set to rattle the cages and pop chart dominance of superstars Abba, Taylor Swift and Michael Buble.

Songs of Disappearance, released by conservation* group Bird Life Australia, has already sold more than 2000 copies on pre-order, making it a real contender* for a top 10 debut* on the ARIA album chart this weekend.

Songs of Disappearance

Official numbers are released on Saturday.

However, based on comparative physical sales from last week, the songbirds would have caused a flap for Swift, who sold 2985 copies of her latest album Red (Taylor’s Version), Abba (2717), and beaten Michael Buble and Doja Cat.

Sean Dooley, of Bird Life Australia, said the Songs of Disappearance album aims to promote awareness of threatened species.

TCP News / Golden Bowerbird. Keywords / bird / bower. media_cameraThe endangered golden bowerbird is one of the bird species featured on the Songs of Disappearance album. Picture: TCP News

“We’re losing these beautiful sounds in our forests,” Mr Dooley said. “We don’t want these birds to be heard only on a digital platform.”

Featured birds include the golden bowerbird – described as “crazy sci-fi sounds from a Doctor Who episode” – and the fernwren, described as a “small bird with a big voice and an important message”.

Mr Dooley said he was thrilled the birds were taking on the fat cats of the pop world.

“I’m not up on how the music business works, but we’re really hopeful,” he said.

However, wondrous warbler Adele is unlikely to be knocked off her No. 1 perch, nor the red-haired rooster Ed Sheeran, from his second place spot a little further down the tree.

Artwork for '30', an album by British singer-songwriter Adele Adkins released in November 2021. media_cameraBritish singer-songwriter Adele is probably safe in the No. 1 spot on the ARIA album chart.

But birds engage more than one sense, and seeing is believing for the authors of new book Backyard Bird Watching, who have called on politicians and health authorities to recognise and harness* the healing properties of the Australian backyard. They have also urged incorporating local parks in the Covid recovery strategy to attract more birds and avian* enthusiasts.

Ron Smith and Bob Winters, both well into their 70s, said bird watching in the backyard was a valuable way to unwind, providing individuals and families with a healing garden environment right on their doorstep.

media_cameraBackyard Bird Watching authors Ron Smith, left, and photographer Bob Winters, would like to see bird watching encouraged as part of Australia’s Covid recovery.

Mr Smith said the extensive Covid lockdowns and restrictions had placed stress on people of all ages, leading to increased loneliness, loss of community connections and an increase in mental health issues – consequences that have been extensively* documented* by the medical profession since the pandemic began.

media_cameraEverybody loves a galah – see the end of the article for drawing activities from Backyard Bird Watching, giving kids a chance to master their colours over the holidays.

“Backyard bird watching provides an activity families can enjoy together, enabling ongoing conversations and valuable learning experiences connecting family, friends, and neighbours,” Mr Smith said.

“By using mobile phones or iPads, information can be shared with others, highlighting the importance of gardens, where people have a personal connection and an appreciation of the ever-changing seasonal environment.

“Singing birds awake us in the morning and constantly entertain us throughout the day.”

Mr Smith said high rise and medium density* housing trends over the past three decades had seen the traditional large Australian backyard disappear from many suburbs.

media_cameraA crimson rosella from the pages of Backyard Bird Watching.

Local parks have become a vital amenity* for families and individuals looking to enjoy a relaxing natural environment and an opportunity to watch and appreciate local birds.

Bob Winters, a photographer whose career has revolved around helping children connect to and protect the environment through his camera lens, said introducing children to bird watching at an early age provides a lifelong skill and knowledge to appreciate nature – an appreciation they are then likelier to pass on to their own children.

media_cameraBackyard Bird Watching, by Ron Smith and Bob Winters.

Backyard Bird Watching is packed with ideas to keep both children and adults busy over the school holidays, including journal keeping, bird counting, puzzles, quizzes and drawing. More free activities are also available on the Backyard Bird Watching Facebook page and website.

Additional reporting by Kids News

GLOSSARY

  • conservation: the protection of animals, plants and natural resources
  • contender: person or group that competes with others to try to win something
  • debut: first appearance or performance in a particular role or contest
  • harness: in this context, it means to use, utilise, make something of a thing
  • avian: a bird or relating to birds
  • extensively: broadly, thoroughly, comprehensively, to a great degree
  • documented: reported, recorded, registered
  • density: number of people and things in a place compared to its size
  • amenity: feature that makes a place more comfortable and pleasant for people

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. How many endangered Australian bird species are featured on the new album?
  2. How many copies of the album Songs of Disappearance have been sold on pre-order?
  3. Which artists are expected to retain their respective No. 1 and No 2 spots on the ARIA chart?
  4. What housing trends have seen a reduction in the number of traditional backyards?
  5. What has become a vital amenity for relaxation, nature appreciation and bird watching?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Create a bird-friendly backyard
Draw a sketch of your backyard at home and add in some features that will attract birds to frequent your backyard. Then you can hear their lovely sounds and look at the different species of birds that visit your area.

The four main features that will help attract birds to your backyard are shelter, food, water and safety. Try and incorporate these elements into your design.

Share your design with your family – it could be a good summer holiday project!

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Design and Technologies; Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Take a walk outside with a partner or as a class and observe an area for birds for a period of around 15-20 minutes. In your observations, record the type of birds you spot and keep a tally of how many of each you see.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: Science; Mathematics

VCOP ACTIVITY
Stretch your sentence
Find a “who” in the story – a person or an animal. Write it down.

Add three adjectives to describe them better.

Now add a verb to your list. What are they doing?

Add an adverb about how they are doing the action.

Using all the words listed, create one descriptive sentence.

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