Daily Distraction: The Birdsong Project makes music 'For the Birds'

The first of a five-volume series is out now, featuring songs from Beck, Nick Cave, Jim James, Beach House and more

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Alive
Cover art for Volume 1 of "For the Birds" from the Birdsong Project

Most days, I set up my home workspace at the dining room table, which is surrounded by some of the biggest windows in our house. The natural light is nice, but mostly I set up here because it gives me the best views of all the birds flitting back and forth among the trees and bushes and my ever-growing number of birdfeeders.

In the warmer months, I also crack the windows so I can hear the birds. I'm still working on recognizing calls, but I'm getting better. This week, the hummingbirds are slurping up sugar-water in full force, and usually I recognize the tiny creature's high-pitched, electronic-sounding chirps before I notice one hovering above the red lid of the feeder.

A lot of people began paying more attention to birds during the early days of the pandemic, when things slowed down and the world grew quieter. That was the case for Randall Poster, a Bronx-based music producer and supervisor for big-name filmmakers like Wes Anderson and Martin Scorsese. As he became enamored with the birds, he learned more about their plight, as bird habitats disappear and extinctions skyrocket due to climate change, bird strikes and other threats.

Poster teamed up with friend and executive producer Rebecca Reagan for The Birdsong Project, a five-volume collection of songs and spoken-word pieces. The first volume of For the Birds came out digitally on Friday, and each month will see another volume released, culminating in September, when the project will issue a 20-LP box set, which will include "a 60-page book featuring an essay by musician-ornithologist Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater and a package bursting with paintings and illustrations of birds by well-known artists." All of the proceeds will be donated to the National Audubon Society.

Participating bands include Andrew Bird, Animal Collective, Beck, Cassandra Jenkins, Dan Deacon, Elvis Costello, Esperanza Spalding, Flaming Lips, Jeff Tweedy, Jim James, Julia Holter, Julianna Barwick, Kamasi Washington, Karen O, Kurt Vile, Makaya McCraven, Mary Lattimore and lots more. In addition to the songs, you'll also find pieces from writers like Jonathan Franzen, Jelani Cobb, Greta Gerwig and Columbus' own Maggie Smith.

Volume 1 is out now; give it a listen here.