Non-human languages: birds

I admit, I spend more time thinking about the evolutionary pathways that machines may take with language, if given enough autonomy, that I rarely write about the types of communications that exist in the world around us.

David G. Haskell’s beautiful article, Five Practice for Listening to the Language of Birds, reminds me that paying attention to the world is not enough.

I love that he writes of this as augmented reality:

The practice of listening to other species is the original “augmented reality.” In opening our minds to the language of species, we experience connection and meaning that far transcend anything offered by electronic simulacra. Why so deep? Because attending to the tongues of other species is our inheritance, bequeathed by a lineage of ancestors extending back hundreds of millions of years. Every one of these grandmothers and grandfathers lived in attentive relationship with the sounds of other species, the diverse conversation of the living Earth.

Though at the same time, I wish he wouldn’t because this is simply reality. Perhaps more pleasurable is the phrase, “ecological polylinguists” which is exactly what we are, and what other species are as well. Perhaps the greatest difference is that many humans pretend we are not, that the languages of other species, of the earth herself, are not as relevant as the languages we speak.

Language is not the only way in which we do not hear the communications of our planet. Scent is another crucial pathway of information. And I like to believe that the magnetic field system, which we humans are not good at, but other species are, is another source of enormously important knowledge.

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