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Writer Jen Sizeland has found peace through watching birds throughout her life, so she wanted that for her child, too. When she was pregnant, she sought to introduce her unborn child to birdsong. As a newborn, she and her baby would listen to the dawn chorus together. Now as a toddler, he joins her watching raptors soar over parks and waterbirds paddling across lakes.
Birding with a Baby
Written by Jen Sizeland
This is BirdNote. I’m Jen Sizeland. I’m a writer and I’ve been obsessed with wildlife for my entire existence.
Birdwatching has always been a way to find peace. Now, as a mother, I want that for my child too.
When I was pregnant I had a visceral desire to walk in nature, introducing my unborn child to the birdsong that I hoped would score his life.
[Waterfalls and sound of White-throated Dipper]
As a newborn, he’d wake at dawn, and we’d listen to the bird chorus together.
[British dawn chorus]
Many a fractious morning was soothed by watching jackdaws and collared-doves through the window, crisscrossing the sky.
[Calls of Eurasian Jackdaws and Eurasian Collared-Doves]
At 4 months old, we spent an hour doing community science by counting our garden birds, observing blue tits, wrens and dunnocks.
Now that he’s a toddler, we watch raptors soar over parks; and swans, ducks and geese paddle across lakes.
[Mallard calls with geese in the background]
I’m proud that he already points out common songbirds like the robins and blackbirds who follow us at a safe distance.
[Eurasian Blackbird song]
To me, it’s vital that I help him develop a love of nature. Only when we show children the importance of our rich birding heritage will they care enough to protect it.
[Mute Swan flapping wings and taking off from the water]
Senior Producer: John Kessler
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Managing Editor: Jazzi Johnson
Managing Producer: Conor Gearin
Content Director: Jonese Franklin
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Eurasian Jackdaw ML78141221 recorded by Dominic Garcia-Hall, Eurasian Collared-Dove ML111096611 recorded by Dominic Garcia-Hall, and Eurasian Blackbird ML163124751 recorded by Dominic Garcia Hall.
White-throated Dipper Xeno Canto 593120 recorded by Simon Elliott, Soundscape XC798511 recorded by Hazel Reeves, Dunnock XC788930 recorded by Simon Elliott, Mallard XC591751 recorded by Simon Elliott, and Mute Swan XC779168 recorded by Stanislas Wroza.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2023 BirdNote September 2023
Narrator: Jen Sizeland
ID# baby-04-2023-09-01 baby-04