I was lucky enough recently to meet composer Peter Cowdrey, who along with the company 'Opera Unlimited', explores the relationship between birdsong and music. As well as guiding birdlistening walks and undertaking educational activities in schools he has composed and compiled music directly inpired and derived from birdsong in the ensemble piece ' The Conference of Birds'. You can read more about this and hear extracts at the website www.operaunlimited.org.uk/theconferenceofbirds.html.
For me it was particularly inspiring to hear how he has managed to use the structures and sounds of birdsong as a creative 'jumping-off point'. Although the musical structures of birdsong are not always as clearcut as human-composed music, familiar musical tools such as repetition, clear motifs and rhythmic contrast are evident, particularly once the song is recorded and slowed down. I've never really found a way of incorporating birdsong into my own music-making, but Peter's work affords an interesting and inspiring model for how it can be done.