Over 52 weeks I will be learning all about how to live and work creatively. My teachers are Aussie birds and animals. It is week one and the creative force has produced the Superb Blue Wren to provide some lessons!
Mothers usually set about teaching their offspring the moment they’re born. But the females of this Australian bird can’t wait that long. Researchers discovered, by accident, while recording at fairy-wren domed nests, that female fairy-wren were singing to their eggs.
The females of superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) start singing to their unhatched eggs in order to teach the embryo a “password,” a single unique note, which nestlings must later incorporate into their begging calls in order to get fed. This trick allows fairy-wren parents to distinguish between their own offspring and those of cuckoo species that invade their nests. The females also teach the pass-note to their mates. This has the potential of opening up new lines of inquiry into prenatal learning systems.
In her book, Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes talks about singing over the bones to feed the creative spirit. As an artistic midwife I am familiar with the creative birthing process, but until the blue wren flitted into my world I had not thought of encouraging creatives to “sing over their eggs’