Late summer is a quiet time in the north woods, so our expectations were low. Over the course of our trip, we camped at three different locations, setting out multiple microphones at dusk and then letting them run through the night. For the most part, the results were disappointing, with very little happening at night (other than cricket trills and chirps) or at dawn (other than spurious bird calls and red squirrel chatter). Recording-wise, our trip seemed destined to be almost a complete bust, but then something wonderful happened on the last night of our journey …
On the advice of friends who live in the Adirondacks, we set up camp near Helldiver Pond, deep in the Moose River Plains about ten miles south of Inlet (see map below). I placed one mic at the edge of the pond, another next to a nearby stream and a third one in deep forest. That night, we slept soundly, unaware of any significant “sound events.” In the morning, feeling rather discouraged, we quickly broke camp, gathered up the mics and then drove home.
That afternoon in my studio, I surveyed the results of the previous night. I found nothing of significance at the forest and stream locations, but when I viewed my Helldiver Pond recording using special sound editing software, I noticed some loud signals at around 1am, and I quickly zoomed-in for a better look. And what a delightful surprise! In the middle of the night, my mic had captured a stunning Coyote concert, by far my best from the Adirondack region. Hallelujah … the sweet taste of success!
Note: The recording featured in the video below is “3D binaural soundscape”. Please wear headphones for a spacious and immersive listening experience.
Coyotes sounding off in the middle of the night at Helldiver Pond in the Adirondack Mountains near Inlet, New York. 1 am, 24 August 2021. © Lang Elliott.
What I like most about this recording is the way it unfolds, with sporadic frog and water sounds followed by a single coyote giving a series of five mournful, drawn-out howls, very wolf-like in character. A listener might conclude it is a loner, perhaps in search of its pack. But then, after about thirty seconds, several other coyotes join in with excited, higher-pitched wavering calls and yappy barks, with occasional overlapping howls (a pattern very typical of coyotes). Finally, the coyote performance comes to a close, with a drawn-out echo (reverberation tail) that extends to the far reaches of the pond.
At the very end, one is treated to the nearby chuckles of two green frogs followed by a watery plink and soft plunk, which come from the pond’s edge only several feet away. And let’s not forget the crickets, trilling and chirping throughout in the background. Such a pleasing combination of sounds, with great reverberation, a wide sound stage, and striking depth from near to far.
So, my fair listeners, I’m curious as to what you think of this recording from the Adirondack wilds. So please join in the conversation by leaving your comment below.
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Fantastic! we live in the Adirondacks ,in Stony Creek and sometimes get that sound show now. I can re -visit the wonderous sound at will. thank you
Fantastic! I was fortunate to have coyotes living near me in Barnard, VT – They were marvelous company, coming to the meadow and outside my bedroom window some nights.
Some of us in VT are lobbying for legislation that will eliminate hunting coyotes with hounds, banning year around hunting and removing the coyote from the “varmint” classification, and banning leghold traps.
Dear Mr. Elliot,
I enjoy being transported by the recordings you have shared with the Pure Nature app.
I plan to begin compiling my own library of nature sounds in the future. Have you ever made any recordings in the vein of the ideas below? Any recommendations for the hardware I might need for underground or underwater recordings?
Rain-from the earthworm’s perspective (underground)
Rain-from the minnow’s perspective (underwater)
Forest sounds from inside a tree (nest)
Frozen lake ice sounds
Wow! That is an incredible recording! I have several of your recordings in my CD collection. This has to be one of the greatest recordings of coyotes I have ever heard. I live on a 53 acre farm in Western Pennsylvania and my family and I have heard coyotes from time to time near our house mostly around 3am, but never this spectacular. I was able to hear the calls of a warm male Carolina Ground Cricket in your background. Thanks for the work you do! ~George
I love this!!! Wish I were there! Or, should I say, wish I were awake to hear it.
Wonderful-Thank you for sharing this.
That recording of the coyotes was great
This is thrilling, Lang! Coyotes & wolves are such vocal creatures. I’ll be sure to share this recording with my young music students. What a special area you live in. Should like to visit sometime. Happy Labor Day to you!
Perseverance pays off! In this case you’ve got a great recording to show for it, and the close-up frogs & cricket backdrop gives a wonderful sense of scale to the distant calls of the coyotes. I would love to hear more of the hypnotic cricket chorus at the beginning, to be lulled into it and then suddenly, from nowhere, hear the coyotes strike up.
Thanks for sharing this wonderful recording! Here in Pinellas County Florida we really can’t record anything because of ever-present traffic noise, although we do have some wonderful Eastern Narrowmouth Toads that are fun to listen to! BAAAAAaaahhhhhh…….sound like sheep!
Fantastic recording Lang, and such a great example of how field recording of course requires skilled field work, but equally requires persistence, patience and luck! I love how the Coyote calls frantically rise up then stop so dramatically, leaving a lovely reverberation through the forest. Gorgeous capture!
Wow! I really did think it was a wolf at first. What a beautiful symphony. Thank you for these wonders.
Wow, that was amazing! That far exceeds anything we are privy to here in the foothills of the White Mountains. It was quite haunting!
Beautiful wild sounds.
We hear coyotes in the Pacific Northwest in the woods in the back of our house. It’s beautiful when the owls start conversing back and forth.
I love when the owls communicate too.
I love it! Coyote music makes the landscape feel so real, so magical, so wondrous! Thank you! Lang, would you give me permission once again to use this for my work as a biologist in Maine. I always attribute it to you!
Geri: By all means use it for your work! And you’re welcome to use these as well:
In much gratitude, Lang!
Fabulous recording! I sleep on a screened porch in New Hampshire, and hear “my” coytes often. I think I will play your recording back to them and see what happens! BC Janeway, Webster, NH
Let me know if your locals launch a full-fledged attack and what the aftermath looks like.
Awesome recording! Thanks so much for letting us into your Sound World!
Wow, that’s really neat but quite eerie as well. If I heard that out there at night it would give me the chills. I like the way it starts off with an insect sound and maybe a fish or a frog and then the startling howl.
I’d say “Holy Smokes!!!” Awesome to say the least. We have Coyotes here and they do carry on just as yours did but we’re out on the prairie/farm land and the acoustics here lack your location’s…the area of wilderness that served as your location, as well as your mic/equipment placement created a not to be equaled result. Wonderful!
The landscape is rather flat at Helldiver Pond. While the reverberation was nonetheless pronounced (and I love the reverb tail at the end that extends to the far end of the pond), it would have been great to have some nearby hills providing delayed echoes, such as those often heard when loons sound off in northern lakes.
This is an amazing capture! Love it!
Wow, what a chorus! I did some recording at and near Helldiver Pond early last June. Lincoln’s Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Common Yellowthroat, and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher were the main standouts (along with the black fly chorus). Interestingly, I caught the White-throated Sparrows singing both doublet and triplet songs (different individuals, I believe). I also caught some very strange Black-capped Chickadee song. I had never been to that area before, and it was lovely.
Yes, quite a beautiful spot. I plan to go back later this autumn to check out some other ponds in that general area. I’ve found some promising spots on google maps, but I don’t know how good those “secondary” roads are.
“My Cana, sweet Cana Cana Cana”? Or some other doublet pattern?
I would describe it more as “Oh sweet Cana Cana Cana,” but that may be a difference in descriptions. One of the Cana birds is here: ML360923671 White-throated Sparrow Macaulay Library The “same observation” recordings on that page may also be of interest. Here are some from the shore of Helldiver Pond: ML362199791 White-throated Sparrow Macaulay Library
Even though it sometimes gives me goosebumps, I love hearing a pack of coyotes call at night. We sometimes get them quite close by. Glad you were able to get a viable sound clip from your trip!
The only other recording I got of significance is an impressive “flyby” of what I think is a spruce grouse. It suddenly takes flight from maybe twenty feet away to one side and flutters right by my mic before landing in the opposite direction. I have a friend who I think will know if it is indeed a spruce grouse (as opposed to a ruffed grouse). Spruce grouse are rare in the Adirondacks, but I have been told that a number have been released in recent years, in the exact area where I got the recording.
Hi, thanks for including the live spectrogram. Very cool addition. I have been trying to figure out what the repeating horizontal “tuning forks” are at 7-8 kHz and the overtone at 15 kHz and this tested the limits of my high freq. hearing. With effort I think I can hear tick, tick, tick, long buzz (before coyote wails) so it must be a meadow katydid. Short-winged? Thanks for this! Makes me want to get out and start recording again. Norm L in Mass.
Norm: Tomorrow morn, I’ll take a closer look at the recording in my editing software and then get back to about what insects are sounding off.
startling chorus. I would be wide eyed clutching my bag or mate, stifling giggles of amazement and fear.
I want to see them. Are they on their hind legs ? Dancing around a kill? Or just reveling in ecstatic bliss?
WOW beautiful so potent.
I prefer the “ecstatic bliss” explanation (being a poet at heart), and I imagine them dancing around one another as their voices join.
Not a bird, but very interesting!
But a mammal is just a bird covered with fur rather than feathers … right? (actually, there is general agreement that mammals evolved before the birds, so I guess my hypothesis doesn’t hold water).
Hello Lang, I’m going to the beautiful Adirondacks this coming weekend. As always, I will have my ears open for the wonderful sounds of nature!
Beware of Sasquatch! I’ve never run into one, but some very large animals have sniffed my mics in the dark of the night.
Thank you for the tip Lang
Thank you for the much needed trip to the woods.
Hi Lang, I’ve always missed out on the ultimate listening experience as I do not have headphones. What do you recommend getting that are reasonable in price to give me the best experience you describe?
Karen, if you will be listening in a quiet place, then I absolutely love open-backed headphones, such as the Audio Technica Air ATH-AD500X: https://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-ATH-AD500X-Audiophile-Open-Air-Headphones/dp/B009S333U4/ref=asc_df_B009S333U4/ . And here’s a comfortable closed back that gives more isolation if there’s “some interfering noise”. This one is often used by pros, though it’s not as comfortable as the one above: https://www.amazon.com/Sony-MDR7506-Professional-Diaphragm-Headphone/dp/B000AJIF4E/ref=sr_1_3 . If you’re listening in noisy surroundings, then noise-cancelling headphones will provide very good results. I own and absolutely the wireless Bose Quiet Comfort 35 ($300), but there are a number on the market now that get good reviews, so I’m not sure… Read more »
p.s. If you are attracted to the Soundcore Life, be sure to read some of the reviews. Apparently, they have a fairly strong bass, which might make distant rumble more evident. But they also have EQ settings so that you could dial back the bass if you like. I carry my Bose noise cancelling headphones wherever I go, the big advantage being that I can listen to recordings outdoors on windy days or in the evening with loud insects all around, and still clearly hear the contents of the recording. I’ve even used them while eating lunch in restaurants, or… Read more »
Thank you so very much for your thorough reply. I appreciate you listing possible sources for this equipment.
I loved hearing this song of New York coyotes. We have some in Charlotte, NC but I’ve never heard a song of so many, or even the song of one. What was all the sound at the end? Much less individual, one voice atop the other?
My sense is that there are three to four individuals involved, although possibly just two?
A wonderful recording, so majestic. Short but very good. I wonder what db level did the peak come in at ? There is quite a lot of low rumble, how close was the town ? Thanks for posting, it has made my evening because I always like hearing your recordings.
Strange …. I don’t hear or see (in Izotope) any low rumble of the type produced by distant traffic. Nearest village was about ten miles away. However, there is some fairly gentle low-end whoosh from light wind and possibly the nearby Moose River. It’s mostly below 1.5kHz. FYI, the peaks for the raw recording were rather low. I recorded at a low level (using my MixPre 6II at 32-bit floating), just in case a deer walked by and snorted right into the mic (a real possibility). When editing, I did a few db of noise reduction below 1.5kHz to lower… Read more »
My dog barked and howled frantically while I played this, and my cats all ran for cover.
I loved it! Kind of makes your skin crawl just a little.
just a little, or possibly more than that, especially if you are a small creature trying to find food in the dark.
Beautiful, Lang! I love the watery sounds, maybe frog movements, framing the concert on both ends. A work of multispecific art. Ruth
Glad you enjoyed it Ruth … “multi specific art” … I like that!
Wow! Fantastic catch. The expedition proves the principle that if you don’t set up recording, you won’t get anything. Persistence is key. Love the web presentation, too. Looks like iZotope Rx? Can you teach me how to make a playable clip like that?
Hi Dan! Yup, Izotope RX video grab using Movavi Screen Recorder Studio 10 (if you get the Movavi software, I’ll walk you through how I make such videos). These days, I often put out three SASS mics and let them run all night. This has significantly increased my “catch rate,” especially for unpredictable sporadic night sounds such as coyotes, owls, nightjars and deer. You may be interested to know that during my trip to the Southwest last spring, I got some absolutely incredible recordings of Spotted Owl in Aravaipa Canyon (Arizona). Multiple mics really helped snag those. I trust you’re… Read more »
April and May is my recording season. I did seven locations, Presidio of San Francisco, Big Sur, four places in Yosemite, and Joshua Tree. Three locations with four-channel, and four with quad plus stereo height mics.
When I married my husband 40years ago and moved to his farm I was frightened to death the first time I heard the neighborhood coyotes. It sounds as if some one is being murdered. Now I love hearing them because I know I still live in the wild. Thanks for what you do.
For the most part, coyotes are not dangerous to humans. But there are exceptions. I remember being horrified when I read about Canadian folk singer Taylor Mitchell being killed by coyotes in Nova Scotia: https://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/10/29/canada.singer.killed/
Stunning. So powerfull!
Excellent! My husband heard it from the other room and thought they were in the yard. They do come around occasionally. He’s mad at me because I laughed at him. Great recording even played off of my phone.
Thanks, but be sure to listen with headphones for the 3D effect.
Wowie! amazing. I wonder what they were all saying. A very different language, I’d love to understand it. : )
I think even the experts are just guessing at what their group performances mean and especially concerning what is “felt” by individuals within the group. I consider it a “celebration” of sorts that helps bond all the members and promote cohesion, while also calling the pack together when they’re separated. I’m guessing that the dominant alpha male (and/or alpha female) starts the howling, but I’m not entirely sure of that. It is also possible that it is a way for the pack to mark their territory by alerting neighboring packs to their presence.
Thank you for the thoughts on this. Now we need the amazing covert nighttime film crew out there with you!
This is both beautiful and haunting but I’m a bit confused as you say it starts out with a single “wolf” howling. Is this not a single coyote calling but a wolf with coyotes answering?
Oh … gotta change that! Should be a single coyote giving wolf-like howls! Thanks for noticing.