GIV­ING BIRDS A VOICE

A new song to raise aware­ness of the plight of mi­gra­tory birds is hit­ting the right notes

Bird Watching (UK) - - News Wire - COM­PILED BY: KIRK PAR­SONS

MIEL DE BOT­TON sings “Let there be birds with­out bor­ders, let there be men with­out guns”, her plain­tive lament on the fate of mil­lions of mi­gra­tory birds. The song, born of a part­ner­ship be­tween the singer and the RSPB, is her at­tempt to give a stronger voice to those birds that fall vic­tim to il­le­gal hunt­ing and trap­ping on their long jour­neys be­tween Africa and Europe ev­ery year. Miel’s re­la­tion­ship with birds be­gan early in her life: “I grew up in Switzer­land, and they have a very dis­tinc­tive bird sound there, that I found very com­fort­ing. When I was sent to board­ing school in Eng­land, it was one of the things that I re­ally missed, so I recorded it and brought it over.” This love of bird­song has re­mained with her; “When I travel, I’m al­ways lis­ten­ing out for the bird­song, and I al­ways find it such a beau­ti­ful thing. It’s so del­i­cate, so frag­ile, and yet so free.” And yet that free­dom is be­ing eroded ev­ery year as mil­lions of mi­grat­ing song­birds are blasted out of the sky, pre­vented from com­plet­ing their epic jour­neys. Speak­ing from her Lon­don home,

When I travel, I’m al­ways lis­ten­ing out for the bird­song, and I al­ways find it such a beau­ti­ful thing

Miel says she was hor­ri­fied to dis­cover that mil­lions of birds were be­ing shot over the Mediter­ranean ev­ery year in the name of cus­tom and tra­di­tion. “I was very up­set. It was hor­rific. I talked to my chil­dren about it, and we won­dered if there was any­thing we could do to help.” By pure co­in­ci­dence, the very next day she was con­tacted by the RSPB them­selves. “I had never had any per­sonal links with the RSPB, but here they were, call­ing me at home and ask­ing if I could write a song about the plight of mi­grant birds.” The singer says that she fell off her chair in shock at the co­in­ci­dence, and im­me­di­ately said yes. And so be­gan a sum­mer of song­writ­ing, as her song, ti­tled ‘Birds With­out Bor­ders’ like the cam­paign it­self, came to­gether. Par­al­lel­ing the jour­ney of the birds in ques­tion, and sub­con­sciously the de Bot­ton fam­ily’s own jour­ney from Egypt to Switzer­land and into Eng­land, ‘Birds With­out Bor­ders’ is in­flu­enced by the music of the Mediter­ranean, the clas­sic French chan­sons of the 1940s, and by Celtic folk music. Miel has joined a grow­ing num­ber of peo­ple such as Chris Pack­ham in vo­cal con­dem­na­tion of the need­less killings. “I hope the govern­ments of these coun­tries are re­ally go­ing to crack down and for­bid the shoot­ing,” she says. As a re­sult of the song’s suc­cess, she has been asked if she would be will­ing to be even more of an am­bas­sador for the RSPB, an op­por­tu­nity she wel­comes. Miel de Bot­ton’s song Birds With­out Bor­ders can be down­loaded or streamed for free at bit.ly/birdswith­out­bor­ders (although a do­na­tion to the RSPB would be very wel­come) For more in­for­ma­tion on the RSPB’S Birds with­out Bor­ders ap­peal, see their web­site at rspb.org.uk

VIC­TIM CON­CERN

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