Habitat Birds singing in hardwood forest. 6:30am, 21 May 2016. Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area near Ithaca, New York. © Lang Elliott. Please play at a low volume to simulate a natural listening experience.

There is no end to bad news when it comes to birds. Recent studies show significant decreases in the populations of a number of our neotropical migrants, a major cause being the loss of habitat on their wintering grounds. And then there’s the predicted negative effects of climate change. So much bad news, almost each and every day!

While I certainly do not deny that there is trouble brewing and that we should do something about it, my purpose is not to wave the red flag of impending doom. Rather, my mission is to celebrate that which is good and present in our lives right now. And this morning’s recording does just that! I’ve christened it Abundant Life due to its rich variety of bird sounds. Close your eyes and listen. How many species can you identify?

Only birds sing the music of heaven in this world. – haiku by Kobayashi Issa

I obtained this recording purely by chance. I had just picked up my soundscape microphone (which I’d left next to a beaver pond at 4:30am) and was heading back to my car. While walking along the trail through hardwood forest, I heard the plaintive whistle of a wood-pewee – pee-a-wee – and stopped to enjoy it. That’s when I became aware of all the other bird sounds in the air.

Excited by what I was hearing, I quickly set up my mic and hit record. I was able to get about twelve minutes of the mix before a jet thundered over at low altitude, followed a truck rumbling down a nearby road. By the time the noise subsided, a number of the birds had moved farther away, so I didn’t resume my recording.

I am very happy with nature’s gift of the day. As you can hear, there are quite a number of singers, including the following:

  • Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • Wood Thrush
  • Mourning Dove
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • Red-eyed Vireo
  • Ovenbird
  • American Crow
  • Common Raven
  • Common Grackle
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (one call and drums)
  • + several other species singing more softly in the background
  • No, I wouldn’t classify this as a meditative zen-style recording. But I do consider it an exceptional “celebration of abundance,” of the rich variety of birds that live in our natural surroundings. I am so very grateful to witness this abundance almost daily during the spring and early summer breeding season. How pleasurable to hear so many voices all in one place … my beloved avian musicians singing their joy into the world.

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