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Mother Nature’s music: An unexpected use for bird sounds at Helsinki Airport

Article published
18.10.2016 at 06:00
Common blackbird
If you’ve stepped inside the washrooms and heard birds chirping, it’s not your mind playing tricks on you.

Since 2011, passengers using the toilets have been serenaded by whistling blackbirds, song thrushes, marsh warblers, Blyth’s warblers, robins and willow warblers.

“The cleanliness and availability as well as the look and feel of washrooms play an important role in overall customer experience. We were thinking of how to bring a piece of Finland to the washrooms, which is a bit challenging when talking about furniture and surface materials,” shares Johanna Metsälä, Manager of Customer Experience at Finavia.

Everything will be alright

“A co-worker came up with the idea of music, which is a very personal subject, but we did not want to have elevator music. So I came up with the of singing birds as it reminds us of the fact that things are okay,” she continues.

Audio experts say that certain sounds relax people physically but stimulate them cognitively, and birdsong has that effect. Over the millennia, humans have learned to be reassured by birds singing since these winged creatures only do so when they are safe. It’s when birds stop singing that people need to worry.

Better atmosphere

This innovative use of a woodland soundscape is especially welcome in crowded places such as airports, where anxiety can be high. Apart from providing soothing melodies, a chorus of twittering birds also masks somewhat embarrassing toilet noises. The flying public seems to appreciate it.

“We have received spontaneous direct customer feedback that it is very much liked. Every now and then we see some tweets and posts about it on social media,” shares Metsälä. “Washrooms are one important touchpoint at Helsinki Airport, so we hope that birdsong would contribute to a better atmosphere and customer experience.”

Read about where to get free cold drinking water at Helsinki Airport

Read more about Helsinki Airport's soundscape trial