photo of gray wolf howling

Note: The recordings featured here are “3D binaural soundscapes”. Please wear headphones for a profound listening experience that will make you think you’re actually out there, immersed in the natural world!

While I’ve recorded in wild areas across North America for over 30 years, there is one species I’ve had trouble documenting … the Gray Wolf. I thought I had captured a fairly nice recording of a lone individual howling in the White Mountains of Arizona, but to my dismay it turned out to be a Coyote. Aarrgghh!

Desiring to finally capture definitive wolf howls, I decided to look into the possibility of working with captive wolves and I quickly discovered the nearby Wolf Mountain Nature Center, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit outdoor educational facility dedicated to fostering an understanding and appreciation of Gray Wolves and their kin. Founded in 2006 by Will Pryor and run entirely by volunteers, the center is currently the home to 15 captive-born wolves, all housed in large outdoor enclosures. Fortunately, I was able to obtain permission to record there.

Wolf Mountain Nature Center

Wolf Mountain Nature Center
562 Hopkins Crandall Rd, Smyrna, NY 13464, USA
Direction
The center is situated on a remote forested hillside about twenty minutes drive from Norwich, New York. With Will’s help, I placed two of my soundscape microphones not far from the enclosures and then let them run all night long. The results speak for themselves! Not long before dawn, I captured three excellent examples of group howling:

Gray Wolf. Three group outbursts given shortly before dawn (long intervals between outbursts have been removed). Recorded at Wolf Mountain Nature Center near Norwich, N.Y. 15 February 2021. © Lang Elliott.

Without doubt, group howling is an absolute delight to the ears, with individuals chiming-in from various directions and distances, their long drawn-out howls echoing across the landscape. Such unrestrained wildness … so spirited and exhilarating … an ancient and primal expression of joy and solidarity!

While I am quite pleased with my group howl captures, by far my favorite recording from Wolf Mountain is a most extraordinary solo performance that occurred in the middle of the night. Around 2am, a lone wolf began howling with long, wavered notes exhibiting minimal variation in pitch. The howling went on for sixteen minutes, with only brief periods of silence, and no other wolves joined in. What on earth is this about? Is this wolf sad and distraught, as one might assume from the quality of the howls, or is something else going on here, something more soulful, passionate or perhaps even erotic?

Gray Wolf. Solo “love song” of a male, given in the middle of the night. Wolf Mountain Nature Center, near Norwich, N.Y. 15 February 2021. © Lang Elliott.

When Will heard my recording, he knew exactly what was happening. The singer is a male named Tamarack and this is his “love song”. Tamarack is excited because a female is in heat nearby, and he is making it known that he is available. So it’s likely that Tamarack is not sad at all, but rather is upbeat, perhaps even ecstatic, at the prospect of mating.

Whatever Tamarack’s mood, I am deeply moved by his performance. Would that I could experience his state of mind, if only for a moment, and feel the emotion that gives rise to these hypnotic, otherworldly howls.

Thank you for listening! As always, I truly appreciate your feedback, so please leave a comment below.

Naturally Yours,

just lang signature

4702-1Friends … if you find that my feature articles have a positive impact on your life, please help support my effort by making a modest donation.

Donate Now

Dear Readers: Would you like to have your picture show up next to your comment, rather than an empty silhouette? Click here to learn how.

Click Here to Subscribe to Comments
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

42 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Cecil Bothwell
2 months ago

And today, just after discovering this beautiful recording, this turns up in the New York Times. Incredibly sad.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/03/us/wisconsin-wolves-killings.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage

Cecil Bothwell
2 months ago

Amazing how this alarmed my indoor cats, who’ve never heard anything like a wolf in their many years! Great recording. Here in Asheville, NC, we have the WNC Nature Center (where I’ve been a volunteer for 6+ years). One of the most popular annual events is the Wolf Howl, held each November. Adults and kids can howl with the red and grey wolves.

kelly
kelly
2 months ago

wow, that lone wolf is a sound I never heard before. Really touches the heart. Glad you captured that

Gail Marshall
Gail Marshall
2 months ago

I loved hearing the recordings but it makes me very very sad that they live in captivity! Is there no way they can be released back into their native habitat??

Gail Marshall
Gail Marshall
2 months ago
Reply to  Lang Elliott

I understand that, but I still feel bad that they don’t live the life that was meant for them.

Cecil Bothwell
2 months ago
Reply to  Gail Marshall

Here in Asheville the captive red wolves have been part of the breeding program hoping to restore the wild population.

John Lahr
John Lahr
2 months ago

These are THE BEST Wolf sounds I have ever experienced. I even go to a local Wolf Sanctuary and don’t hear them like this. Thank You for ALL You Do.
John Lahr

Geri Vistein
2 months ago

Hi Lang,
Do you still have the sound recording of the solo Coyote howl in the White Mountains of Arizona. I would love to hear that one…from a Coyote wild and free.

Geri Vistein
2 months ago
Reply to  Lang Elliott

Hi Lang,

Thank you so much. And thank you for the Coyote Moon link as well. May I ask your permission to use these two links in my work as a biologist. Once before you gave me permission to use their howling at the Beaver Pond. I have it on my website and have used it in my talks..always attributing it to you. People love to hear them howling….it adds so much to their experience of this reclusive wild canine. My best, Geri Vistein

Geri Vistein
2 months ago
Reply to  Lang Elliott

Thank you! Lang

Joe Taylor
2 months ago

Two weeks in a row now I’ve heard the two most haunting coyote and wolf recording, both by Lang Elliot. Remarkable.

Dan Dugan
2 months ago

Wow! Incredible recordings.

Peggy Cloutier
Peggy Cloutier
2 months ago

Touches my soul! This is absolutely beautiful !

Eliza
2 months ago

Hair-raising, hypnotic and delightful, Lang. These recordings speak to the soul. Loved them!

Michele
Michele
2 months ago

Fantastic!

Bt bell
Bt bell
2 months ago

Oh wow, that lone wolf song is mesmerizing. It sounds like a large wooden flute or even a conch shell. If he doesn’t get his lady, I’ll be surprised. Thank you for allowing us to hear this

Lang Elliott
2 months ago
Reply to  Bt bell

Reminds me of a zen shakuhachi piece, played using a very large bass-size flute.

Billie
Billie
2 months ago
Reply to  Lang Elliott

that sounds perfect. except maybe too much wild soulful emotion for a zen piece? 🙂

Alyson Martin
Alyson Martin
2 months ago

At 4:30 one morning while tent camping near Stanley, Idaho, I heard two packs a distance apart serenading each other and the dawn. I’ll never forget the thrill!

Ed Kanze
2 months ago

Lang, this is fabulous stuff! The writing alone is marvelous, and those sonorous, soulful wolf howls are over the top. Wow! Thanks! Have fun at Big Bend and wherever else you go. Give our best to our javelina pals in the Chisos basin.

Last edited 2 months ago by Lang Elliott
Robin
Robin
2 months ago

Exhilaratingly beautiful and wild!! And my dog loves it, asking me to play it over and over!

Rich Wood
Rich Wood
2 months ago

Wonderful, almost spiritual recordings! Thank you! Just wondering, where would you have to visit to truly capture the calls of wild wolves (wolf pack)? Alaska, Northern Canada, maybe the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone NP?

Donna
Donna
2 months ago

I look forward to all of your recordings and adventures. These are wonderful. I will listen to them over and over.

mark s nupen
mark s nupen
2 months ago

Oh, Alpine Arizona! You picked a stunningly beautiful remote area of Arizona on the eastern edge of the state. Mogollon rim and everything there. An area also with such history. thanks

Saille
Saille
2 months ago

So wonderful to listen to these recordings. Especially of the solo males love song. Such a potent reminder of the wild in us as well as them ..

Saille
Saille
2 months ago
Reply to  Lang Elliott

I agree !

Gail Shapiro
Gail Shapiro
2 months ago

Beyond beautiful! Thank you. I never knew of this center.

Debbie
Debbie
2 months ago

Absolutely beautiful!

Marie Read
2 months ago

Stunningly evocative!

Logo - reversed

Subscribe to My Newsletter

Join my mailing list to be notified when I publish new articles or blog posts.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This