Birds at Dawn
8 Tracks — 84 minutes total
Behold the music of the birds, living proof that nature is healthy and productive, that earth is overflowing with goodness, and that all is well in the world. Who is not uplifted by the twittering of the birds at dawn, by nature showering us with sweet notes that celebrate the coming of the day?
Birds at Dawn features eight dawn choruses, most recorded from late spring to early summer, at the height of the avian breeding season. If you love birds, you are sure to enjoy the this album, but please listen at low volume for optimal effect.
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NOTE: This album is also featured in Pure Nature 3D Audio, a FREE app for Apple mobile devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.)
Land Between The Lakes
It is the height of spring in rolling hills of Kentucky. At the break of dawn, we arrive at a picnic ground that overlooks a large meadow surrounded by forest. As expected, the dawn chorus is rousing, with so many species sounding off that it is difficult to discern them all.
Altogether, we hear the songs and calls of about a dozen species … summer tanager, blue-gray gnatcatcher, Kentucky warbler, eastern bluebird, and many more. Canada geese are also prominent, and at one point a pair flies almost directly over us.
Identification is not our main goal, so we quit trying to discern every species and allow ourselves to “simply listen” to the overall chorus, to the totality of the soundscape. Such a lively celebration of first light. The birds sound happy, and we feel happy too!
April 28, 2010 at 5:45am. Nature Station, Land Between the Lakes, near Golden Pond, Kentucky. Recorded by Lang Elliott.
Not far from where we live is a forested ravine that drains into a swampy area that we call Cayuta Creek Marsh. On a foggy morning in late May, we arrive at the marsh before dawn and then sit quietly at the edge of the wetland, listening as the birds usher in the new day.
A robin sings, a pickerel frog snores, and a wood duck flies-in calling … week, week, week, week. Listening closely, we hear the flutey notes of wood thrush in the distance and then the melodic whistles of a rose-breasted grosbeak. A catbird soon joins in, along with black-capped chickadees.
The fog begins to lift. So magical, the voices of the swamp at dawn.
May 21, 2016 at 6am. Cayuta Creek Marsh, Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area, near Alpine, New York. Recorded by Lang Elliott.
During a trip to south Texas, we spend the night in dry brush country dominated by grasslands, mesquite thickets and prickly pear cactus. The dawn chorus is a magnificent ensemble of sound, very different from what we’re used to back home.
At the bottom end of the sound spectrum, common ground doves and greater roadrunners coo, the latter giving downward series’ of whining notes. Higher up, many other birds sound off, including cactus wrens, olive sparrows, northern bobwhite, and yellow-breasted chats. We are delighted to hear the sudden outburst of a yellow-billed cuckoo. So many sounds … what species have we missed?
Such an engaging chorus, so rich in sound from low to high!
May 20, 2005 at 5am. Chaparral Wildlife Management Area, near Artesia Wells, Texas. Recorded by Lang Elliott.
At Whitewater Lake in Manitoba, we greet the dawn at the edge of a field, next to a dense shrubby area. There is nothing special about the appearance of the habitat, but the extraordinary density sounds surprises us.
Mourning doves dominate the bottom end, their coos heard almost continuously. We also notice the muffled low-pitched hoots of sharp-tailed grouse … there must be a breeding lek nearby. Songbirds fill the high end … clay-colored sparrow, gray catbird, brown-headed cowbird, both eastern and western kingbird, yellow warbler, house wren, and more. A woodpecker drums, we think it’s a downy.
We are in awe of this amazing dawn chorus, so abundantly full of life, erupting at the prairie’s edge.
June 4, 1993 at 5:30am. Sexton Island area of Whitewater Lake, near Boissevain, Manitoba. Recorded by Lang Elliott.
Beaver Pond at Dawn
In late May, we greet the dawn at a beaver pond in a wildlife management area near where we live. Bullfrogs and green frogs sound off prominently and we hear the gentle whoosh of a light breeze. In the middle of the pond, a large beaver hut is silhouetted by the eastern sky.
The chorus is rich in bird song. We hear the squeaky churr-skee of common grackles and the vibrant conk-la-rees of red-winged blackbirds. A mourning dove coos. A wood thrush flutes from nearby forest. Song sparrows and common yellowthroats also sound off, along with yellow warblers, ovenbirds, purple finches and more.
The beaver are no doubt resting in their den. We wonder if they too hear the birds singing, and if they delight in their songs?
May 30, 2013 at 7am. Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area, near Newfield, New York. Recorded by Lang Elliott.
Eagle Bluffs Marsh
In the Missouri River bottomlands in central Missouri, we spend several days exploring Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. Rising at dawn, we visit a small marsh surrounded by trees and shrubs.
It is the intersection of night and day. Leopard frogs chuckle and croak excitedly, great horned owls hoot from afar, and then a bullfrog bellows from nearby … perhaps his last song before the coming light. A little later, we notice the grating trills of a chorus frog.
We also hear the coos of mourning doves and the songs of a Baltimore oriole, red-winged blackbirds, common grackles, and yellow warblers. An orchard oriole suddenly flies in and sings loudly from a willow branch that leans out over the pond. And are those the musical trills of a gray treefrog?
Frogs and birds combine to create a wondrous soup of scintillating sound, a veritable feast for our receptive ears.
May 27, 2011 at 7am. Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, near McBaine, Missouri. Recorded by Lang Elliott.
Dawn choruses unfold quickly with the coming of light. One species may sound off first, but others soon join in, and within ten or fifteen minutes the chorus reaches a crescendo of activity that may be held for a half hour or more. Then the chorus gradually tapers off as birds begin to concentrate on finding food and tending their young.
In late May at one of our favorite wild areas, we intentionally arrive well after dawn and soon come across a forest chorus that isn’t nearly as raucous as it would have been an hour earlier.
An eastern wood-pewee sings loudly at first, it’s lovely plaintive whistles standing out from the other bird songs. A mourning dove coos and crows give throaty caws. We recognize other bird songs as well: the flute notes of a wood thrush, the melodic ramble of a rose-breasted grosbeak, and the ringing teacher, teacher, teacher of an ovenbird.
We revel in this gentle chorus, a pleasing forest concert that makes us feel at home.
May 21, 2016 at 7am. Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area, near Alpine, New York. Recorded by Lang Elliott.
In early July, we greet the dawn in forest at the edge of a marshy pond. It rained the night before and water drips from the trees. Wind comes and goes. Bullfrogs and green frogs sound off from the cattails. The soundscape is pleasing, wide and spacious.
Bird song is not nearly as dense as it was a month ago. A catbird sings prominently from a shrubby patch and a robin briefly joins in. We also hear the trills of a swamp sparrow and the ratchety notes of a common yellowthroat. In the distance, a lone wood thrush pipes his musical lay.
Water, wind and bird songs … such a gently soothing mix, so very relaxing to behold.
July 6, 2018 at 5am. Finger Lakes National Forest, near Reynoldsville, New York. Recorded by Lang Elliott.