For avian watcher, tweets truly are for the birds

Ever wonder what those birds that wake you up are really trying to say? British bird expert Bill Oddie heads to the zoo to translate chirps into tweets (the Twitter kind).

Bill Oddie tweets for the birds at ZSL London Zoo's Blackburn Pavilion today. ZSL London Zoo

Birds were tweeting long before you started sending out 140-character messages about your daily commute. And British birdwatcher Bill Oddie doesn't want you to forget it.

So, today at least, Oddie did his part to turn Twitter over to the original tweeters of the world. He and the ZSL London Zoo's head bird keeper, Adrian Wallis, arrived early at the zoo's tropical aviary to interpret the roughly 70 residents' chirps in tweet form.

"Very territorial call from the Scarlet Chested Sunbird -- protecting its nest," read one tweet from Oddie with a sound file attached. Read another: "Here's the Roul Roul Partridge -- listen for high-pitch whistling -- a great way of keeping in touch in the dense jungle."

Oddie also used Twitter to answer bird-related questions sent with the hashtag "BirdsThatTweet." He got some good ones (if he could be any bird, he'd be an owl; April and May are the best months for listening to birds; fear of birds is "ornithophobia"; puffins sound like ET). Oddie also suggested the best bird-watching Twitter accounts to follow.

The well-known actor and wildlife watcher takes good-natured umbrage at the idea that Twitter flies on the backs of birds, so to speak -- what with the little blue birdies flying all over the site and the lexicon suggestive of our feathered friends.

"It seems to me far too long Twitter has traded on birds, like 'tweets' and 'twitters.' That is a bird obligation I think that they've had, and it was not being fulfilled as far as I was concerned," he tells The Telegraph in the video below. (@TwitterUK was fully complicit in today's flurry of bird tweets, factoids, and resources.)

But the day's ornithological chatter wasn't just meant to infuse Twitter with tweets of the purest form. Bird migration season begins this month, and today's #BirdsThatTweet marked the high-flying occasion.

 

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