In spring we hear their trills, songs, verses, and duets: it is the soundtrack of the blooms, the sounds that testify that we have had the privilege of seeing our hemisphere renew life once again.
And as we listen to their songs and see them busy fiddling with straws and mud balls, we wonder what we are to them, how we could communicate with them, and if this could be possible … this book can be an answer.
Eva Meijer, a writer, philosopher, and researcher at the Dutch University of Wageningen, and director of organizations and associations dedicated to the research on Environmental Philosophy and Animal Studies, reconstructs the forgotten story of Len Howard, a passionate bird observer, born in England at the end of the 19th century and fascinated since childhood by their world of flights, songs, indecipherable itineraries in the garden and among the fields around her home in Wales.
Len, showing a precocious tendency towards autonomy, eludes the female destiny of the time and leaves the high-bourgeois family to become a violinist and perform in London orchestras.
At forty, she decides what her destiny is: the love of birds. She then leaves the city, her affections, and music to move to the countryside, in Sussex, and live in her “Bird Cottage”, with the birds as her only friends. For the rest of her life, Len will observe them, study them, manage to win their trust, and enter their communities, while respecting their nature and spaces.
And she will begin to understand them, with extraordinary results.
For many, Len was an eccentric lady who talked to Great tits (Parus major); for the scientific world, she was an outsider difficult to “digest”. Actually, Howard was a brilliant forerunner in the study of the behaviours and languages of animals in the wild, with independence and acumen that her times did not reward, but which today appear to be exemplary.
These are the reasons why we highly recommend Bird Cottage, a book in which reality appears like a novel and the novel is scientific truth.
Author: Anna Lacci is a scientific popularizer and expert in environmental education and sustainability and in territory teaching. She is the author of documentaries and naturalistic books, notebooks and interdisciplinary teaching aids and multimedia information materials.
Translation by Maria Antonietta Sessa