Adirondack Spruce Bog Hermit Thrush singing at dusk. 8:30pm, 7 June 2000, Adirondack Mountains near Paul Smiths, New York. © Lang Elliott.

Wrap your ears around this splendid recording: a lone hermit thrush, calling and singing at dusk against a backdrop of spring peepers. I made this recording in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. Imagine being there … It is near dark in pine woods, with ponds and marshes in all directions. The forest floor is soft and springy. Bracken ferns brush against your legs. Countless distant peepers fill the air with a continuous blanket of sound, a soothing backdrop for the thrush’s exalted performance. How exciting to witness this awe-inspiring transition from dusk into the night.

Like the Robin Singing at Dusk that I featured in an earlier post, this recording includes the sounds of just a few species. The hermit thrush and background spring peepers are the primary sound instruments. Listen also for the croaks of green frogs, which provide a bottom-end to the recording. Other subtle bird sounds can be heard at times, including calls of a robin and songs of a white-throated-sparrow and a chipping sparrow (or is that a junco?). A very distant hermit thrush sounds off toward the end.

Whatever the explanation, this relatively simple combination of sounds has a sublime and lofty effect on the human psyche (at least on my human psyche). Therefore, I plan is to include this soundscape in my forthcoming “Tranquility” production. It will probably be the last recording featured, preceded and cross-faded with the robin-and-peeper recording … the one gently transitioning into the other for a supremely relaxing ending.

Does this sound like a good plan?

Thrush Music – a poem © Lang Elliott

the songs of thrushes soothe my ear
the wood, the hermit and veery
bright cascades of flutey notes
balm for the sad and weary

hermit begins with whistle clear
veery spirals downward
wood thrush ends with ringing trill
that calms the twilight hour

the songs of thrushes touch my heart
and lull my mind to peace
my frets and worries wash away …
unrestrained release

NOTE: The Hermit Thrush’s two most common calls are featured in this recording. These include a nasal “way” and a staccato “churt”. The functions of these calls are not entirely clear, although churt calls are often given in situations of concern. Since I backed away from my soundscape microphone during the recording, I do not believe that the thrush was concerned about my presence (I was sitting quietly on a fallen log nearly a hundred feet away). On the contrary, I believe the thrush was relaxed and behaving much like Wood Thrushes often do at dusk, mixing both songs and calls in the evening twilight, as if celebrating the the end of a busy day.

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