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Story last updated: 05 May 2004 1145 BST Printable version of this page
Listen to the birds - right here!
Blackbird   May is the month for birdsong and to make the most of this, the BBC Bristol website, Radio Bristol and RSPB are running some special birdsong activities and events.

From 17 to 24 May you'll have the chance to vote for your favourite song - in aid of the Babe appeal for Children's Hospice South West.

The blackbird's song is associated with the arrival of spring

Use our guide to some of the birdsong you might hear in Bristol to help identify who's singing in your garden.


Robins can be heard singing throughout the year, save for a quiet spell in July while they moult and no longer hold territory.

The song consists of short melodic phrases of one to three seconds, alternatively high and low pitched. It is clear close too, but does not carry as well as that of other birds such as the blackbird and song thrush. Individuals sing from bushes and trees of moderate size, the songs tend not to be too difficult to locate.

In winter, both males and females sing while defending feeding territories - the song during the colder months being a little more wistful and melancholy than in spring.

Listen to the robin's song


For many, the blackbird's melodious song is unsurpassed and always accompanies the optimism of lengthening days, light evenings and warmer weather.

Birds start singing properly from mid to late February. The song is a series of liquid melodic phrases lasting two to four seconds or so, interspersed with intervals of equal length. The birds sing from prominent song posts, and are often the 'first up and last to bed'.

Listen to a blackbird

Song thrush

Song thrushes sing, in the main part, from late January through to mid summer, but will also have welcome bursts of song in midwinter.

Their song is strident and staccato - a series of short loud phrases, many simply subtle variations from a limited score. Try repeating the phrase 'did-you-do-it did-you-do-it you-did you-did you-did' and you'll get a feel for the song.

Males often take to the highest branches of tall trees to sing - and can be heard from quite a distance.

Listen to the song thrush


Another great melodist, male blackcaps start singing in April and continue through to July. The song in phrases of up to five seconds, the notes pure, with intervals of a similar length.

The whole song may last quite some time, and on occasion without pause. Blackcaps are also capable of mimicry, weaving blackbird and thrush songs into their own. They sing from bushes and dense vegetation, making themselves as inconspicuous as possible.

Listen to the blackcap


Skylarks sing while in flight and only very rarely from a post or from the ground. Their rich song is one of the great signature tunes of an English summer.

Males fly up from their territory to 300 feet or more then sing loudly in one continuous phrase that can last many minutes. On completion, the bird will drop to the ground, sometimes while singing, then, a little while later, rise up again.

Skylarks are found in rough grass and cultivated land, the peak time for their song being from February, although they may be heard on occasion in all months.

Hear a skylark


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BBC Nature - Birds

Listen to the birds - for Babe

Find out about birdsong events in May 2004

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Video Nation in Bristol

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