Ladyslipper Pond with Catbird inset Gray Catbird singing from a multiflora rose bush next to the outlet of Ladyslipper Pond. 6:30am, 11 May 2016. Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area near Ithaca, New York. © Lang Elliott. This is a 3D binaural recording; please wear headphones and don’t play too loudly!

I delight in gathering sound portraits of common species, with emphasis on depicting each bird dimensionally “in its habitat,” embedded within a pleasant mix of other nature sounds. In years past, I toted a parabolic reflector and captured close-and-clean renditions virtually devoid of a sense of place. Those recordings certainly have their use (for ID guides), but they rate low in terms of aesthetics and provide little if any sense of place. How unnatural and ultimately boring!

Thus, you can imagine my delight when I encountered a Gray Catbird singing in a multiflora rose shrub next to the overflow of my beloved Ladyslipper Pond. How agreeable was the sound … the catbird’s leisurely song phrases set against the gurgling of water flowing down a small gully, with the subtle notes of other birds in the background. With great pleasure I recorded the male’s performance. I have a number of spacious catbird portraits in my collection, but I think this one is my best yet.

I look forward to hearing what everyone thinks, especially as it relates to the relative loudness of the catbird’s song versus the water sounds. Did I hit it on the nose, or is one or the other too loud? Remember, though, that this recording is meant specifically to be a sound-portrait of the catbird, not a mix of water gurgles with subtle bird songs.

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