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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Do I hear a clarinet as the howling begins? Shades of Paul Winter ?
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to listen to such a beautiful soundscape! I love the coyotes and the melody of their voices intermingling however the Dawn chorus of the birds with the gurgling of the brook behind them is incredible also I look forward to being on your mailing list and hearing more of your incredible soundscapes from nature!
Amazing songs of the coyotes. Thank you so much,
Beautiful!!! I hear the coyotes here at my place in Brad. Co PA…love hearing them.
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.
it just fills me up s
Yes, headphones are the place to be!!
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!
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: I’m glad the birds held off until right after the coyote outburst. In my little movie with the moon, I actually edited the bird sounds out right at the end, so as not to conflict with the “middle of the night” appearance of the footage. Creative license, I guess you’d call that. Hope you’re doing well. On March 1, I’ll be heading out for three months on the road. Heading to Texas, then Arizona, then the Prairie States. Thankfully, I got my first vaccination two weeks ago and I’m scheduled for my second shot on Feb 11. So I’m… Read more »
That’s great, being able to ramble with a bit more peace of mind. Travel well!
Oh how wonderful – Paul Winter there too! At the end of January this song makes me hopeful. Thank you so much.
Parts reminded me of the Japanese flute. Music to my ears.
Yes, I agree … reminiscent of shakuhachi zen music.
Wonderful! And I appreciate your not mentioning swatting mosquitos the whole time you lay there dozing on that rock.
Fortunately, it was early in spring and there were no mosquitoes. But even later in the season, there are amazingly few skeeters in the park.
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.
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.
Where do you live … maybe near Townsend?
The Great Smoky Moon is a great videography add. Good work!
Thank you so much for this beautiful recording!! 🙂
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.
So glad you were able to do this, as it’s unlikely I’ll be out camping to hear it– greatly appreciated!
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!
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.
Sounds great Mary Ellen, and so good to hear from you!
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!
Oh my … don’t want to do in those hair cells. I, for one, have lost enough of them already!
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.
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 »
Nicholas: Now that is some incredible writing. I am humbled. Your prose, I assume?
I love everything about this! Thank you for sharing.
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!!
You’re welcome Constance!
One of my favorites you have ever recorded and shared! Appreciate the hard work and dedication it took to capture these recordings.
I feel the same about it. And I had given up getting anything really nice. Gold comes pouring down at the most unexpected time.
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!
Why not give it a go? Practice makes perfect, you know!
Okay! Here goes– 🙂
Spectacular! Beautiful recording 🙂 🙂 🙂
Thank you for sharing!
What a beautiful symphony!! Thank you for recording this treasure!!
Wow! This recording is absolutely amazing! Thank you, Lang. I love it!!
Transported to another planet where thrills abound, Thanks!!!
but … but … it actually happened on THIS planet!
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.
“Wildly exhilarating” …. I like that expression; it’s right on the nose!
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.
Coyotes are very difficult to record because of their unpredictability. I’ve only gotten them by letting my recorder run for long periods, sometimes unattended, so that it’s already rolling when an outburst finally occurs.
My best I do believe! I have louder and closer, but this one is by far the most beautiful, perhaps because only two individuals were sounding off (I think), plus they kept howling, as opposed to breaking into shorter, more dissonant yips.