Veery Habitat © Lang Elliott Veery songs and calls. 5:30am, 14 May 2016, Texas Hollow State Forest near Burdett, New York. A 3D binaural recording; please wear headphones! © Lang Elliott.

Veery by Lang ElliottMany mornings I am unable to even get a half-usable recording, but this morning I struck gold. I arrived at Texas Hollow in the twilight and made my way to a swampy area … a slow-moving stream surrounded by Hemlocks and hardwoods. I heard a Hermit Thrush singing not far downstream and moved in his direction. No luck; he flew off before I had a chance to get close.

Feeling the usual frustration, I stood next to the stream, took a deep breath and relaxed, enjoying the cooing of a Mourning Dove, along with the calls of distant spring peepers and the occasional soundings of crows and canada geese. And that’s when it happened. All of a sudden a Veery began singing nearby … and I mean “nearby”, I think within fifteen to twenty feet of my position. “What luck,” I remember thinking, “my first chance of the season to record the spiraling flutesongs of this magical avian musician.” There was no way to see male in the dim light of dawn, but he seemed to be just overhead, in the yellow birch towering above me. I dared not look in his direction for fear he would fly away.

I am so fortunate. Veery songs showered down upon me for nearly two minutes before the male broke into an extended call sequence (of common occurrence in this species). Altogether, he gave six noticeably different call types before flying off to a more distant perch. I’ve recorded many Veerys over the years, but I believe this is my most intimate sound-portrait yet. I still can’t believe he allowed me to get that close. Surely, he was watching my every move.

Just for fun, here is a section of the recording slowed down and pitch lowered so that you can hear the intricate details of the songs. Sounds like weird signals coming from outer space, with a foghorn thrown in for good measure!

Veery Sonogram

Well, what’ya think of that? I invite you to join in the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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