Soundscapes of Lockdown
Locked down in a flat in Lisbon on a high fourth floor, with no backyard nor balcony, it was through my (thankfully big) windows that for months I experienced the natural world outside. Inevitably, what I noticed the most were the birds.
Amongst the flying silhouettes and polyphonic sounds of sparrows, blackbirds, goldfinches, seagulls, kestrels and probably others that my limited bird watching skills could not identify, there was one sound that caught my attention: the shrill sound of flocks of ring-necked parakeets, which contrasted with the silence of empty streets.
Originally from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian subcontinent, ring-necked parakeets had established in Lisbon by the 1980s. Similar to other European cities, in Lisbon the population of this popular pet species presumably originated from birds that escaped from cages or were deliberately released. These green and very noisy birds have since taken over many of the gardens and parks throughout the city, including the one near my home, in the northern part of Lisbon. It was from there that the flocks that I saw and heard every morning during lockdown flew in search for food, returning before sunset.
This ‘exotic’ species became part of the soundscapes of the city, the neighbourhood and, at least for me, of lockdown.
Author bio: Filipa is an anthropologist and cultural geographer who has been studying the sociopolitical dimensions of forest management and nature conservation in Portugal and the UK. I: @filipafsoares