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When I first arrived in Granada, I took the Plaza de la Trinidad as one of my landmarks for navigating the center of the city. It’s a lovely square situated in the heart of Granada’s El Centro district, ringed by cafés and retail outlets, and with an impressive fountain the center. The nearby cathedral might seem a more suitable point of orientation, but being as massive as it is and taking up an entire city block and then some, the open space of the Plaza served to fix my orientation instead.
One day in early November, I passed through the Plaza just before nightfall and was shocked by the noise. Thousands of small birds had taken up roosts in the top branches of the dense tree cover in the plaza, and it seemed as if all of them were squawking and chirping at once. They all seemed to be of the same species, little brown ones of some sort (I’m no expert), since they all sang the same song. A few stray loners of other species, well outside the central area, added their own unique sounds to the amazing racket.
I was quite impressed. The square is fairly busy during the day, with both vehicle traffic and plenty of people talking outside the bars and cafés and in the plaza park itself. But this was something else. The noise these birds made, as they presumably bedded themselves down for the night, was tremendous! You could hear them from several blocks away, and in the plaza itself you’d have to shout to make yourself heard over the noise.
I was struck by what a nice little counterpoint the whole scene was. Here, in the core of a dense and busy city, these thousands of birds would congregate each day. Who knows what they sing and chirp and squawk about. Maybe they’re just marking out their territory and warding off outsiders, maybe it’s a kind of community-reinforcement behavior, or maybe they cry out in solidarity with their brethren imprisoned in the cages of the exotic bird shop near where I took up residence. No matter. Here they were, every day just before dusk, making a joyous din that echoed off the stone walls of the surrounding buildings. The only negative point was the huge amount of droppings they produced; walking through the park during those hours is a calculated risk to anyone’s hair and clothing.
When I was in the area, at the right time, I would sometimes drop in just to hear all the birds singing their mighty song.
And then, at the beginning of December, a city maintenance crew came along one day and cut down all the smaller tree branches and carted them away. And the Plaza de la Trinidad now lies silent, until late spring.