Botanists, including a descendant of Charles Darwin, are researching the birds’ preference for Berlin

They were once among Britain’s most beloved singers, their “murmurs musical” giving melancholy poets solace in their darkest hours. But these days the world-famous warblers are more likely to be found jamming with jazz musicians in neglected Berlin parks than serenading Londoners in Berkeley Square. Some even claim that their latest outpourings feature elements of German techno.

Luscinia megarhynchos, the common nightingale, has been shunning the UK since the 1960s, during which time the population has slumped by 90%. The number of birds in Berlin, however, is on the rise. According to cautious estimates by the city senate, the German capital’s nightingale population grew by 6% every year from 2006 to 2016: “a very high rate”, said Johannes Schwarz, a species conservation officer, who puts the current number of nesting pairs at between 1,300 and 1,700.

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