"If we do not start talking about the threats facing nature the inspiration behind so much of our music, poetry and literature may go silent," the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said.
In a first for the UK music industry, a single comprised solely of birds singing has debuted on the midweek chart just outside the top 10. The song, ‘Let Nature Sing’, was released by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in the hope that it would draw attention to the many birds endangered across the UK.
Blackbirds, robins, nightingales, warblers and woodpeckers are among the birds featured on the unlikely hit.
“Nature is amazing but it is also in trouble”
Martin Harper, the RSPB’s Director of Conservation, was heartened by the early success of the track.
“Over the last few days, thousands of people have bought and streamed our track to hear nature’s finest singers and show that they love bird song,” he said.
“This has started a national conversation as millions will have heard, seen and read the facts showing that, shockingly, nature is in crisis in the UK. The response to ‘Let Nature Sing’ sends a powerful message that yes, nature is amazing but it is also in trouble. The good news is that it is not too late, we know what needs to be done and together we can take action to restore it for us and for future generations.”
Nic Sothern, Nic Scothern, South-east Regional Director of the RSPB, said birds in the UK were going extinct at an alarming rate.
“Since 1966, we have lost more than 44m birds in the UK alone,” she said. “The UK is one of the world’s most nature-deprived countries, which is truly shocking. We know that culture can inspire action, so, by using that, together with the power of humans’ inherent connection to nature, we can achieve something remarkable.”
There are now 67 birds on the RSPB’s ‘red list’ of species in severe decline, including corncrakes, skylarks and turtle doves.
— Official Charts (@officialcharts) April 29, 2019
UK survey respondents unaware how close to extinction many birds are
Despite these grim numbers, research from the RSPB showed that there are widespread misconceptions about the numbers of birds in the UK. Over a quarter of people they surveyed believed that nature was “doing well”.
When presented with more information, including the fact that 56% of all wildlife species in the UK are in decline, 49% respondents were upset and 37% were shocked at the news.
Many wanted to ‘do something’ about the situation when they heard how many birds faced extinction.
A recent survey from UK data analytics firm YouGov also found people are overwhelmingly positive about having birdsong in their lives. It was by far the favourite sound to wake up to for survey respondents. The majority of people in each age demographic also reported that birds singing made them feel happy, peaceful and relaxed.
Friends! Today is the day! Please download and share #LetNatureSing so that we can continue the discussion about protecting the nation's favourite songbirds! The track is made up of the songs of 25 types of endangered birds. I couldn't be more proud of it! https://t.co/Ber6Nj2TvA pic.twitter.com/5l8cWeHvxd
— Sam Lee (@samleesong) April 26, 2019
‘Let Nature Sing’ a “dreamlike journey through Britain”
The single has been compiled by Bill Barclay, also the Music Director at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, and Sam Lee, a folk singer and ancient music enthusiast.
“What we’ve created is a two and a half minute conversation between species that don’t ever meet and a sort of anthropomorphic, dreamlike journey through Britain, across different landscape, from wetland to moorland to forest to scrub,” Lee said.
“The editing took care of itself. The birds all knew where they needed to be. All Bill and I did was give a bit of guidance.”
It was the third-highest debut on the midweek chart, behind only Stormzy’s ‘Vossi Bop’ and Taylor Swift ft. Brendan Urie with ‘Me’.
Girls & Boys, we've got a Good Song for you! We're trying to get bird song into the top 10, show your support for the 44 million birds lost since 1966. Download: https://t.co/x6mW9gBrqY #LetNatureSing @blurofficial @Damonalbarn @thealexjames @grahamcoxon @DaveRowntree @Dave_Balfe pic.twitter.com/KQlKxqk6SX
— RSPB (@Natures_Voice) April 30, 2019