17 Dec 2021

Songs of Disappearance - Australian bird calls top the charts

From Checkpoint, 5:55 pm on 17 December 2021

A music battle across the ditch for the top album has taken an interesting turn, with actual song birds in the game. BirdLife Australia's Sean Dooly spoke to Checkpoint about the album's success.

Forget Bieber and Buble, an album full of the chatter, squawks and songs of a rare array of Aussie birds has flown onto the Australian charts at number five, and they're vying for the top spot.

"So Adele, we've got our eyes on you - we're going to knock you off your perch," says BirdLife's national public affairs manager Sean Dooley.

Dooley spoke to Checkpoint about the album, which was a collaboration between Bowerbird Collective and BirdLife Australia.

It features "some crazy sounding birds that sound more like they're from a 1970s science fiction movie than the Australian bush."

It also features the Regent Honeyeater, of which there are only 300 left in the wild.

Dooly said he had a sweet spot for the critically endangered bird.

"The poignancy of their song - it's a very simple song, and slightly melancholic one, but it's very poignant because the birds themselves are forgetting their own songs.

"The young males use their songs to court the females, however there are so few male birds left for them to learn their songs from that they're having to resort to imitating other species and of course the females aren't very impressed by that, and of course it's just another impediment to the birds successfully rearing the next generation of Regent Honeyeaters."

The critically endangered Regent Honeyeater

The critically endangered Regent Honeyeater Photo: Jss367, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The album Songs of Disappearance has resonated with Australians because it "ticks all emotional buttons", Dooly said. There's something joyous and sad about it.

"It's meant to be a celebration, an imagining of what the soundtrack to Australia is and what we're losing."

The album - which Dooly said they never expected to reach the top 5 - brings awareness to birds' plights. Ninety-six birds on the threatened list have become more threatened in the past 10 years, Dooly said.

"We don't want our forests and our outback to go silent," he said.