29 JUNE 1956, Page 27


'Do birds ever sing in their sleep?' asks a Hampshire reader. 'A few nights ago, lying awake about 2 a.m., I suddenly heard the song of a dunnock coming from a thick hedge a few feet away from my open window. The note sequence was full and unhesitating as during the day and was not repeated. This occurred again this morning at 1 a.m., a few seconds of perfect song. On both occasions the night was very still and warm. There were no cats or other disturbers of the peace and no lights from windows or passing cars. I have seen no record of such an occurrence except under emotional stress when birds have been disturbed at their roosting places.' I am afraid this is outside my experience, for the only birds I have heard have been nocturnal ones. Hedge-sparrows and °tiler birds may, at times, sing at roost, and even in their sleep for all

I know. I fancy that one cause could be a change of atmosphere such as is experienced before a thunderstorm. This affects a number of birds by day and may equally put them twittering and singing in the dead of night. I should be interested to hear from anyone who has come across such things.