Lichfield Festival Box Office:
01543 306 150

Lev Parikian on ‘Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear?’

Published date: June 25, 2019
Last modified: June 25, 2019

Lev Parikian on ‘Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear?’

“As a 12-year-old, I was an avid birdwatcher. I was also a fraud, a liar and a cheat. Those lists of birds seen, ticked off like Don Juan’s conquests? A tissue of lies. One hundred and thirty species? More like 60. Dotterel, firecrest, smew? Give me a break.

So when I revived my dormant mania early this year, I decided to right my childhood wrongs, even though they were born of good intentions. I would go birdwatching again. I would keep track of the birds I saw. I would not lie. To spice things up, and to guard against enthusiasm fatigue, I set myself a target. Six hundred and one bird species have been recorded in Britain. I would aim to see 200 of them in a year. A doddle, surely?

Not so fast, man-cub.

Half of the 601 are described as ‘rare’. One, the great auk, is extinct. That leaves 300. My friend Andrew is a proper and active birder. In his best year he clocked up 206. I’m neither proper nor active. What chance do I have? Slim to none. But I like a challenge.

Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? is the story of that challenge. But it’s not just about birds. It’s about family, music, nostalgia; hearing the stories of strangers; the nature of obsession and obsession with nature. It’s about finding adventure in life when you twig it’s shorter than you thought; losing and regaining contact with the sights, sounds and smells of the natural world; the humiliation of being a professional musician who doesn’t recognise the song of a blue tit. It’s about the first time my parents heard me say the ‘F’ word. It’s a book for anyone who has ever seen a small brown bird and wondered what it was, or tried to make sense of a world in which we can ask ‘What’s that bird?’ and ‘What’s for lunch?’ and get the same answer. It’s also a long overdue thank you letter to my parents.

Lev Parikian’s event about the book ‘Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear’ is on Friday 12th June at 4pm in Wade Street Church and tickets are available HERE.