Bird Talk

Today, Sharon ‘fesses up to talking to animals… but finds an ally in Mary.

There’s no two ways about it, I’m an animal lover – both domestic and wild. I constantly chat away to my cats, who in turn communicate their needs to me. The change in tone or pitch of their purr, their stature, the lifting of a paw to be stroked and the numerous vocal noises all indicate a different need to which I instinctively react. In the garden I find myself reassuring the  birds and squirrels that I’m not a threat when refilling their feeders and when a curious little robin tilts its head I do wonder whether it is actually trying to make sense of what this mad human is saying.

It is refreshing to know that I am not alone when it comes to communicating with animals. Since working on the Dr Mary Gillham Archive project and having the privilege of reading some of her diaries, I have discovered that Mary also communicated with her feathered friends.

In May 1960, during a visit to South Africa, which was primarily to study the effect of guano and its harvesting on bird and other wildlife on some of the islands off the Western Cape (Documented in her paper: Some Interactions of Plants, Rabbits and Sea Birds on South African Islands).

Mary describes summoning a flock of red-winged starlings (Onychognathus morio)…


… and later in the afternoon she was chatting with a Cape Robin (Cossypha caffra).


Discover more about Mary’s interaction with birds and other animals by reading other blogs on the Mary Gillham Archive Project website, and follow our progress on Facebook, Flickr and on Twitter.

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