While sifting through recordings yesterday, I came across my all-time favorite coyote outburst, captured shortly before dawn in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, way back in 2011. I was with fellow recordist Ted Mack. We set up camp at the Cade’s Cove campground, but didn’t retire after dark like all the other campers. Instead, we rushed off to hike the 10-mile loop road (which is closed at night for cars), stopping here and there in hopes of recording something interesting.

It was early April. The half moon came and went. I well remember walking for hours on end with my recorder dangling around my neck and my tripod and soundscape mic bouncing on my shoulder. While we heard distant barred owls and a faint whip-poor-will or two, very little was happening sound-wise and we soon grew tired and disappointed. With no night sounds to excite us, and a hint of morning light appearing to the east, we finally decided to record the gurgling of a small brook and the gradual unfolding of dawn.

Ted headed downstream and I soon found a nice spot upstream, where I carefully placed my soundscape mic and then lay down on a large, flat stone. Soon, I found myself dozing … and that’s when the magic fell upon me. Without warning, a lone coyote gave a long drawn-out howl from the hill above, and then another joined-in from a different direction, its higher pitched howls sliding upward in tone. Then the two broke into a more animated exchange, their excited calls interweaving, overlapping, and echoing through the thick forest. And as suddenly as it began, the Coyote concert drew to end, melting away into the incessant gurgle of the brook, just as freshly-awakened songbirds began ushering in the dawn.

Needless to say, I was elated. I lay there for minutes on end, soaking in the bird song. Not long after, Ted showed up, having captured his version of the same soundscape. Though weary from our long night of walking, we sauntered back into camp with smiles on our faces, and then collapsed into our sleeping bags, just as everyone else was rising to greet the new day … such is the life of those who record the voices of the natural world!

Below is an extended version of the recording, featuring not only the coyote outburst, but also the dawn chorus that followed. Be sure to listen with headphones for a really wonderful 3D immersion experience.

Coyote outburst with stream gurgle. Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 6:00 am, 11 April 2011. © Lang Elliott.

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48 Comments
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Trudy Gerlach
Trudy Gerlach
4 days ago

Beautiful!!! I hear the coyotes here at my place in Brad. Co PA…love hearing them.

Billie
Billie
27 days ago

I come back to this over and over. It is truly one of the most beautiful nature recordings I’ve ever heard. Deeply heart touching and full of wild beauty.

sSuszanne k
sSuszanne k
29 days ago

it just fills me up s

Tony Ingraham
1 month ago

Yes, headphones are the place to be!!

Marajorie Cox Fabian
Marajorie Cox Fabian
1 month ago

I really enjoyed this one of the coyote’s songs. It gave me shivers down my spine. I thought my two Labs would be bothered by it…but they slept right through it. We haven’t had coyotes howling around our farm in Central Wisconsin for quite a while. The Cades Cove birds are lovely!

Jim Cummings
1 month ago

What a great moment, especially after a night of disappointment and “settling” for a simple dawn chorus with stream! It sure is amazing how coyote clans burst into cacophony then back to silence so suddenly. The extended version is wonderful with the birds ramping up in their more gentle rhythm…

Jim Cummings
1 month ago
Reply to  Lang Elliott

That’s great, being able to ramble with a bit more peace of mind. Travel well!

Edith P
Edith P
1 month ago

Oh how wonderful – Paul Winter there too! At the end of January this song makes me hopeful. Thank you so much.

Jill Clark
1 month ago

Parts reminded me of the Japanese flute. Music to my ears.

Sally
1 month ago

Wonderful! And I appreciate your not mentioning swatting mosquitos the whole time you lay there dozing on that rock.

Ruth Coppersmith
Ruth Coppersmith
1 month ago

Hi Lang, what a treat! I used to be able to hear the coyotes in the woods behind my house but my hearing hasn’t been good enough for years so it was a special treat to be able to hear them again via your recording. Thanks so much.

Nancy Marrison
Nancy Marrison
1 month ago

I’m very familiar with the coyote sounds living just a few miles from Cade’s Cove. Loved this recording!! When we hear them from our back porch at night, it’s so eerie I go inside. It gives me chills.

Norm L.
Norm L.
1 month ago

The Great Smoky Moon is a great videography add. Good work!

Rui
Rui
1 month ago

Thank you so much for this beautiful recording!! 🙂

Ned Williams
Ned Williams
1 month ago

On hearing your amazing recording,I was immediately drawn back to a time on the Appalachian Trail when we heard a similar chorus late in the evening. Eerie and breathtaking. Something you never forget. Thank you.

Mary
Mary
1 month ago

So glad you were able to do this, as it’s unlikely I’ll be out camping to hear it– greatly appreciated!

CariciaJean
CariciaJean
1 month ago

As I sit here warm and cozy with my coffee, at the drive thru waiting for my breakfast taco, a shiver and a smile comes over me listening to this! So much the opposite of my current reality, kind of cold and primitive and so right. I can imagine a winter morning in my sleeping bag, woken up by the dark shadows of these howls and then, the changing of the guard and the spirited songs of a new day. Ahhh, thanks for transporting me!

Mary Ellen Snyder
1 month ago

Just lovely! Thanks! Lang, our Phase 1 map is almost ready for test visits from small groups and we hope to start welcoming visitors in early summer, as we travel around the East Coast. We hope to work with you and Cornell on some Geoshows in the next year. We are planning to start developing a migratory species Geoshow this summer.

Mike Shalter
Mike Shalter
1 month ago

Wow, Lang, I should have turned down the volume before I started playing those strident coyote howls… damn near knocked out a bundle of cochlear hair cells! Fantastic sound! The babbling brook and those songbirds were icing on the cake!

Philip
Philip
1 month ago

That’s an incredible Coyote chorus and it just stop on a dime and then this great early morning ensemble begins. It’s really wonderful to hear and we usually don’t hear these types of things. No one seems to cover nature sounds like this so thank you very much. Can’t wait until the peepers start this spring.

Nicholas Bartenhagen
Nicholas Bartenhagen
1 month ago

Your Cades Cove Coyotes soundtrack aroused memories of a 2012 Vermont Winter Solstice evening serenade, shared to family and friends in a subsequent Christmas “newsletter”. Nothing jolts a person so alert like coyowolf howls in the night. Quick – out onto the deck to stare hard past the snow-silvered meadow. They’re so close by, yet furtive. Their voices rise again – shimmering acapella waves lapping at the edge of the house – undulant tenor howls, wild falsetto yipping, barking laughs . . .and then. . . like that – an abrupt, synchronic silence. How do they know? Who is their maestro?    “Encore!!”… Read more »

Gena
1 month ago

I love everything about this! Thank you for sharing.

Constance DAmour
Constance DAmour
1 month ago

Very nice to hear the birds songs! And the coyotes too! It is so surprising to hear that sound, I remember the first time I heard that, I was afraid but finally, it is the nature and it is correct!! Thank you so much for sharing these sounds of the great nature!! I love it!!

John Johnson
John Johnson
1 month ago

One of my favorites you have ever recorded and shared! Appreciate the hard work and dedication it took to capture these recordings.

Melody Carr
Melody Carr
1 month ago

Wow, that coyote song sends chills up my spine. Makes me want to lift my muzzle up to the moon and join in . . .
but I probably don’t have that uncanny tonal range!

Melody Carr
Melody Carr
1 month ago
Reply to  Lang Elliott

Okay! Here goes– 🙂

Sacha Penner
Sacha Penner
1 month ago

Spectacular! Beautiful recording 🙂 🙂 🙂

Thank you for sharing!

Robin
Robin
1 month ago

What a beautiful symphony!! Thank you for recording this treasure!!

Judy Bennett
Judy Bennett
1 month ago

Wow! This recording is absolutely amazing! Thank you, Lang. I love it!!

Michele
Michele
1 month ago

Fantastic!

Michael D. Cooper
Michael D. Cooper
1 month ago

Transported to another planet where thrills abound, Thanks!!!

Billie
Billie
1 month ago

Absolutely spectacular!! i will listen to that many times. i get to hear coyotes some here in the NC mountains, and think their music is wildly exhilarating.

Carole
Carole
1 month ago

I’ve been awakened by coyotes a couple of times this winter but they’ve ended their calls before I could open the door to hear better. I’ll stick around for the bird’s dawn chorus next time.

Christine Hass
1 month ago

Beautiful!

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