Bluebird Impressions

Here are some video impressions of a pair of Eastern Bluebirds that I gathered on April 22 at Land Between the Lakes. This is not one of my best videos, but I decided to post it anyway. The soundtrack is a dawn ambience recorded at the same location. Enjoy!

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This video illustrates a hard reality concerning capturing bird videos. Because long telephoto lenses are used and the microphone is next to the camera, it is impossible to record subtle sounds such as the fluttering of wings when a bird takes flight. Yet the telephoto lens makes it seem like you’re right next to the bird . . . so one expects to hear those intimate little sounds.

The solution? It’s called “foley” in the movie industry. The subtle sounds have to be added in post (in the studio). For this recording, I would be tempted to take wing flutter recorded under other circumstances and then synch those flutters to the video. I already have a small library of wing flutters that I intend to use in this way. The trick, of course, is to make the end product believable . . . it has to sound real or the audience will catch on.

SOUND RECORDING FROM 1988:

Now for a special treat. Here is my all time favorite recording of a singing bluebird. I made this recording in 1988 at none other than the Land Between the Lakes. I was on my very first recording trip with my friend Ted Mack. This was a lucky catch. It’s not dawn song, but just regular song . . . given strongly and jubilantly by a male perched on a dead stub in a swamp:

Song of an Eastern Bluebird. Recorded by Lang Elliott at Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky 17 May 1988, 7:30 am, during Lang’s first ever recording expedition.

Comments

  1. Zack Frieben says:

    Excellent video, and recording! I’ve read that the Eastern Bluebird has between 70 and 80 songs. That sounds hard to believe, doesn’t it? All the songs sound at least somewhat similar.

  2. Darrell Tschakert says:

    I just discovered your work on YouTube.com a couple of days ago. I am very impressed and have enjoyed watching your work immensely. I am an ammature photographer who travels around the US about four months per year photographing birds. That means that I have some idea of how difficult it is to get as close as you do to birds like the Bobolink and Wood Thrush. I hope that I can find something about your technique on your web site, which I just now discovered.

    I really enjoy listening to the bird songs played at slower than full speed.
    Again, I am very impressed with your work.
    Thanks,
    Darrell Tschakert

  3. You’re right about the telephoto lens…does give the impression that you’re right next to the bird! How wonderful that you’ve such a clear recording…also sounds like you’re right next to the bird…perfect! Thanks for your incredible commitment to bringing our eyes, ears, and hearts to this experience as you’re on your journey! I’m away for a couple of days, and am looking forward to what you’ve done when I’m able to next check in.

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