White-throated Sparrow © Lang Elliott A flock of migrating White-throated Sparrows singing from a shrubby thicket at dawn (with North Cardinals singing prominently as well). 5:40am, 27 April 2016, Finger Lakes National Forest near Trumansburg, New York. Note: this is a 3D binaural recording; please wear headphones for optimal immersion. © Lang Elliott.

I rose at 4:30am on this frosty morning and headed for Finger Lakes National Forest, arriving at about 5:15am. Birds were already singing, especially the cardinals. I followed a trail through a wooded area, thinking I would get a closeup recording of one of the cardinals. Instead I came across something very special … a migrating flock of White-throated Sparrows, awakening to the day in a thicket at the edge of the woods. I was immediately impressed by the veritable symphony of thin whistles rising from the shrubs, like fine whispers of steam escaping inflated throats after a night of restful fermentation. Such poetry of sound … such tonic for the ears!

What good fortune to come across these birds! Although I lost several minutes fumbling with my recorder, I managed to get about seven minutes of this stunning concert before individuals began dispersing from the thicket. I’m sorely tempted to go back tomorrow for another try, but perhaps this recording is plenty good enough?

I’m curious how everyone will respond to this mixture of sound. It was very pleasurable to behold on-location … the pure-tone whistles of perhaps four white-throats set against the bright notes of three (or more?) cardinals. I couldn’t see the singers in the twilight of dawn, although I detected some movement at times, and occasionally heard the soft flutter of wings. White-throated Sparrows do breed in my area, but certainly not at this location. I imagine that most, if not all, of these birds will soon fly northward to breed in the Adirondacks or the Canadian north woods.

4702-1Let me know what you think. Is this recording pleasurable to listen-to, or do the songs of the white-throats overwhelm? Should I reduce the volume of the nearest white-throats, or leave the recording as-is? I’m quite aware that the pure-tone whistles can easily cause one to cringe, but only if they are too loud.

Also, are the cardinals too prominent? I can’t remove them, but I am able to force the loudest one farther into the distance, using some studio “tricks” (sure sounds convincing, doesn’t it?). Here is the same recording as above, but with the loudest cardinal somewhat tamed:

Same recording as above, but with the loudest cardinal reduced in volume (= pushed more distant). © Lang Elliott.

MORE NOTES: About halfway through (@ 1:40), I hear a single peep! from what I presume to be a migrating thrush … I think Swainson’s Thrush? There was no water nearby, so it’s not the call of a Spring Peeper. Also … Wild Turkeys sound off several times way off in the distance. Do you hear them? And what other birds are sounding off in the background?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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