An album of Australia’s most-endangered birds and their calls has sold its way into the No.3 spot on national pop charts, beating Taylor Swift and ABBA in its flight path.
Songs of Disappearance is a 24-minute album of endangered birdcalls recorded by Australia’s best wildlife sound recordist, David Stewart. It sold over 2,000 copies and demonstrates the love of Australians who want to help their native species—with all proceeds going to conservation of our feathered friends.
Its genesis came when Stephen Garnett, a conservation professor at Charles Darwin University, finished the 2020 Action Plan for Australian Birds, a set of recommendations that found 1 in 6 native species are threatened with extinction. He had a conversation with his Ph.D. student Anthony Albrecht, a classical cellist and one-half of a two-person multimedia company called the Bowerbird Collective.
Albrecht asked his advisor if there was anything Bowerbird Collective could do to make people aware of the action plan. That was when they discussed the idea of an album.
“I knew it was an ambitious thing to suggest and—I don’t know—Stephen’s a little bit crazy like me, and he said, let’s do this,” Albrecht tells NPR.
The other half of Bowerbird, the violinist Simone Slattery, arranged a musical collage of all 53 birds on the record, while the remaining tracks are each bird’s individual songs recorded by Stewart.
“We did it! Thanks to your incredible support we reached #3 in the ARIA charts, ahead of Taylor Swift, ABBA, Mariah Carey and Michael Bublé,” the organizers wrote on their website, noting the Christmas-time bump given to the latter.
All proceeds of the album were donated to BirdLife Australia, which helped in production.
Some of the singing comes from birds that are Critically-Endangered, and one bird, the Night Parrot, wasn’t even known to science until 2013.
“When we last prepared an Australian bird action plan in 2010, we were not even sure Night Parrots and King Island Brown Thornbills existed – this CD has calls of both,” Professor Garnett said in a statement.
Each CD comes with a copy of the action plan, and a small guide to each bird and how to pick the sound of their calls out. The LP just became available internationally, so we all can enjoy the sounds and donate to the cause.
“The golden bowerbird sounds like a death ray from some cheesy ’70s sci-fi series,” says Sean Dooley, the national public affairs manager at BirdLife Australia.
“And then you get to the Christmas Island frigatebird. The male has a flap of skin under its chin that inflates like a giant red balloon, so when it’s doing these courtship sounds, it sounds bizarre—but looks incredible.”
LISTEN to some of the amazing sounds below…
FLY The Music to Bird Lovers on Social Media…