Birdwatching With Your Eyes Closed

An Introduction to Birdsong

by Simon Barnes

  • Published: 03 Nov 2011
  • Price: £12.99
  • Format: Paperback
  • Format: Ebook
  • Extent: 288p
  • ISBN: 9781907595479
  • Buy it now from
  • Buy it now from Waterstones

Learning birdsong is not just a way to become a better bird-spotter. It is tuning in: a way of hearing the soundtrack  of the planet earth…

Why do birds sing? What are they trying to say?

Birdsong is not just about natural history. It is also about our history. We got melody from the birds as we got rhythm from the womb. Birds are our music: they teach us to express emotion and beauty in sound. The first instruments ever made were bird-flutes.

This vital book – with a free podcast – takes you from winter into deepest spring, teaching you to how recognise song after song as the chorus swells. You start with robin, and end up listening to nightingales.

Along the way, you will learn something of the science of birdsong – the difference between song and call, the physiology of songbirds, what birdsong tells us about evolution, and indeed the very beginnings of life itself. The aim is to give you a flying start in birdsong so that, after reading this book, you’ll be listening to order, not chaos, to Bach, not white noise. You will be more aware of the wild world, and better able to understand it.

Simon Barnes’ Birdwatching with your Eyes Closed Podcast:


Most of us can see, but not everyone looks. Most of us can hear, but not everyone listens. This book will help you do both. And, above all, it will tell you how to enjoy. – Bill Oddie

A gem… All day, I’ve been fighting the urge to drop everything so I can devour this eloquent book in one siting… exquisite.  – The Guardian

He’ll tune your ears to winter’s lonely voices – robins, wrens, long-tailed tits – before preparing you for the exultant sounds of spring. – The Times

Become a bird listener, says Barnes, and tune in to the special podcast of airborne song that comes free with this book, and you will better understand the lives of birds and identify the wild notes that first inspired human music. A delight. – Iain Finlayson, Saga

A beguiling love song to our feathered friends. Brilliant. – Rosemary Goring, Glasgow Herald

An excellent book from the irrepressible Simon Barnes… a must-buy for any birdwatcher. – The Times

Do you struggle with identifying birds by song? Yes? Good! Then there’s a delightful journey, just waiting for you thanks to this book… This spring should be a special one for you. – Birds Magazine

He’ll tune your ears to winter’s lonely voices – robins, wrens, long-tailed tits – before preparing you for the exultant sounds of spring. – The Times

This is very good indeed. Barnes’s approach is humorous, chatty and pragmatic… He can’t do the listening for you, but boy, does he help you sharpen your ears. – Irish Times

About Simon Barnes

Simon Barnes is the multi-award-winning chief sportswriter for The Times. He is also a novelist, nature writer and horseman, and the bestselling author of a dozen books, including How to be a Bad Birdwatcher and The Meaning of Sport (Short Books). He lives in Suffolk with his family.