hermit thrush habitat Hermit Thrush singing with drip from trees after rain. 5:10am, 7 June 2016. Shindagin Hollow near Brooktondale, New York. © Lang Elliott. Please play at a moderate to low volume to simulate a natural listening experience.

What could be more relaxing than listening to a Hermit Thrush singing after a rain, with water dripping from the trees?

Last night I visited Shindagin Hollow at dusk. I was surprised by the number of Hermit Thrushes I found singing in the mixed forest, especially areas with lots of towering Eastern Hemlocks. I tried recording, but there were jets passing high overhead and lots of traffic noise, both in the distance and close-by on the road that passes through the hollow. I did manage to capture several brief parabolic closeup recordings of both a Hermit Thrush and a Veery, but I was completely unable to gather any useable soundscapes. So I went home, slept soundly, and then rose early so that I could be present for the dawn chorus.

It rained off-and-on through the night but the sky was clear when I arrived at the hollow at 4:30am. There was so much drip falling from the forest canopy that it sounded like it was raining. The first bird to sing was a robin that chimed-in at 4:40am. Soon after, the Hermit Thrushes began and it took me nearly twenty minutes to home-in on one that wasn’t overwhelmed by the song of a robin or some other species.

The result is just wonderful, at least to my ear. The Hermit Thrush, which was singing from high in a Hemlock almost directly overhead, is not too close nor is it too far away. It is at just the right distance for a pleasurable effect that allows one to hear the intricacy of the songs without being overwhelmed. The drip also sounds good, although I must admit that I had to remove a dozen or more loud splats from drops that fell too close to my mic (thank goodness for sophisticated editing software that allows me to do this without interfering with the bird songs).

As you can imagine, I am very pleased with this morning’s catch. It’s the first really nice Hermit Thrush recording I’ve made this season. Such an exquisite soundscape featuring a voice that is at once ethereal, tender, gently caressing … the voice of solitude, of a shy and hidden bird of secluded forests.

Naturalist John Burroughs thought the Hermit’s song an expression of “serene religious beatitude” that embodies “a peace and a deep, solemn joy that only the finest souls may know” … “O spheral, spheral! O holy, holy!” I only hope my recording conveys the essence that Burroughs so elegantly describes.

Let me know what you think of this recording. Does it affect you the way it affects me?

NOTE: If the louder drips are bothersome, I can mellow them out somewhat. Let me know if that seems necessary.

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