THE ANXIOUS BLACKBIRD BLOG Thursday 24th June 2021



One of the many things I like about life is nature and the natural world. And in particularly garden birds and birdsong. They give an amazing soundtrack to accompany us whilst we are doing the garden or walking in the countryside.

The most melodic garden bird I find is the male blackbird.

From as early in life as I have memories of until now, there has always been a blackbird family in my garden. The jet black, coal black, head of the family, male one with his yellow beak. He sings the amazing solos. Early morning right through to the close of the day at dusk when the light finally fails.

His light brown, smaller framed wife is always close by him, but with a lower profile scavenging for worms and food on the lawn. Although she is often missing as she spends many hours sitting on her eggs on the nest. And then at certain times their brood will be with them, an additional one, two, three or four hungry beaks.

All through my life those blackbirds have been there for me. They have been there not only in my mum’s garden, but in my grandparent’s garden, in Mamma’s Garden before we married, in our children’s gardens now. And also, most places in the UK where we’ve been on holiday.

For years a pair of blackbirds nested in a tree in my grandma’s garden. I always saw the babies in the nest. They had up to three broods a year. It was superb to see them.

The hot, June, Sunday afternoon my mum died, we were summoned to the City Hospital, Nottingham. We were in a side room off the ward. The weather was so hot the windows to the room were wide open. The room was ultra-peaceful and not a sound anywhere except for a solitary blackbird singing its head off beautifully. The sound was so fitting, comfortable and somehow reassuring.

The problem is I have never really thought through all these different blackbird families. So, to me over the years all the different blackbirds and their families have blended and are as one.  Just one blackbird lifelong mate of mine with his wife and children who have always been there for me and with me for 70+ years.

But a common blackbird has an average life expectancy of only 2.4 years, and based on data from bird ringing, the oldest recorded age is 21 years and 10 months. So, I will have known 31 generations of blackbirds through my life since the very first one I heard. And 4 generations down if they’d all lived the longest ever a blackbird has lived.

The point to all these explanations is that on these summer evenings one of our favourite pastimes is to sit outdoors and listen to the melodious choruses of the blackbird. In past summers he has sat high on a television aerial. Ours or our neighbours or a local tree. And sang for all he was worth. Beautiful!

But not this year. I have not heard our local blackbird sing one melodious note. But it just makes that terrible alarm call all the time. The one reserved for seeing off predators. The one reserved for warding off the domestic cat that has gone too close or is on the blackbird’s hallowed ground. The one he reserves for me if I decide to clip the hedge not realising, I am close to the blackbird’s family home, the nest.

This year I have had to close my study window because I find his shrill continual alarm call very disturbing and off putting especially as it has been going on for a couple of months now.

I constantly try to help him looking out to see and find out what is inducing these panic attacks. I really want to help him. I worry for him and his family.

I cannot see any predators. His nest is in the hawthorn hedge at the bottom of our garden. There are horses in the field the other side of the hedge, but they do not come anywhere near due to the electrified fence between the field and the hedge.

I suppose he could be landing on the electric fence all the time and complaining about the tingles of shock running through his body. Our tree surgeons caught the fence, and they made a similar racket with swear words. If it is the electric fence he needs to keep away. Don’t go there. There is an abundance of non-electrified fences and natural hedgerows without using the electrified one.

Maybe the dark scares him. Or is his alarm call because his wife winds him up by sitting on their eggs too long and not letting him have a go.

There is a pair of squirrels, but I do not think they interfere or even care about the blackbirds. There are lots of rabbits in the field, but they do not come anywhere near our gardens. They’ve all been to see Peter Rabbit the Movie and give human homes and gardens a wide berth.

I know the cry is also a territorial cry and blackbirds use it to ward off other blackbirds that may be edging in on their patch. I could understand other blackbirds envying our blackbird family. It is a prime garden spot. A garden well cared for filled with an abundance of huge juicy worms. A garden complete with superb garden friendly nature loving humans nearby. The envy of not just blackbirds but any birds.

But I have not seen any other blackbirds in close proximity. So, it cannot be a territorial battle cry.

With all-natural possibilities that could cause the blackbirds cry eliminated I can only assume his cry is a psychological one.

He has probably had a mental breakdown through overwork and working too many hours. At the moment it is his busiest time of year, up at sunrise 04:40 until sunset 21:30, on duty and on the go almost 17 hours a day.

I have come to the conclusion he is crying out for help because he is having anxiety, and panic attacks. About what? About the state of the world and global warming I suspect.

If only he would listen to me. I can help him. I want to say just calm down, slow down, and stop. Perch high in the highest tree or on a TV aerial. Survey the wonderful world around you. Take a big deep breath, open your beak and sing at the top of your voice. All day. Every day. Like the 30 generations before you. You know that’s what you were born to do.

Singing will be the very best therapy for him and he will be calm like his ancestors always were.

That way we can all settle to a much less anxious life!



The Top 10: Spelling Test Songs

Notable examples of musicians feeling the need to spell it out

  1. G.L.O.R.I.A. Them (Van Morrison’s band), 1964.


  1. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Aretha Franklin, 1967. She ad-libbed more words to Otis Redding’s original song, including spelling out the title.


  1. D.I.V.O.R.C.E. Tammy Wynette, 1968. Has to be included, I suppose, as it is the famous one. Worth it for the pastiches: Billy Connolly’s version, in which the dog bites his L.E.G


  1. F.I.R.E.I.N.C.A.I.R.O. The Cure, 1979.


  1. P.E.R.S.P.E.C.T.I.V.E. “How Men Are”, Aztec Camera, 1987. Strange word to spell out in the middle of the lyrics.


  1. R.E.V.I.V.A.L. Eurythmics, 1989.


  1. R.A.M.O.N.E.S. Motörhead, 1991. Embarrassing tribute to their friends and contemporaries, the Ramones..


  1. F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E. Pulp, 1995..


  1. L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. Noah and the Whale, 2011.


  1. A.R.C.H.I.E. in “Archie, Marry Me”, Alvvays, 2014. I like it.


Bubbling Under

There are an awful lot of them, and most of them are terrible. No room, I’m afraid, for D.I.S.C.O. Ottawan, 1979, or for M.E.T.H.O.D.O.F.L.O.V.E., an inexplicable lyric in a song called “Method of Modern Love,” Daryl Hall & John Oates, 1984,

 “Lola,” the Kinks

“Oklahoma,” Rogers and Hammerstein (“surprisingly difficult to get it right in the excitement of an amateur production,”

P.A.S.S.I.O.N. Rhythm Syndicate,

U.N.I.T.Y. Queen Latifah,

G.U.Y. Lady Gaga,

F.E.A.R. Ian Brown,

D.A.N.C.E. Justice,

L.O.V.E. Nat King Cole;

S.U.S. The Ruts, against Thatcher’s sus (stop and search of “suspected persons”) laws in the Seventies  M.I.C.K.E.Y.M.O.U.S.E. from “Mickey Mouse Club March”





Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it. – Ferris Bueller


Happiness is…taking time to listen to the blackbirds song




Love is…sitting together on a warm June night and listening to the blackbird singing together.


A time to stress out…A time to relax and sing, sing, sing! – (Yes, Mr Blackbird, I’m talking to you.)


24th June

1509 Henry VIII is crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey

1901 Pablo Picasso opens his first exhibition.

1916 Mary Pickford becomes the first female film star to get a million dollar contract.

1958 Nina Simone releases her debut jazz album “Little Girl Blue”.


Click the picture to read more.


Reflections of a Top Hit Record

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©2021 Phil M Robinson