It is difficult to capture great soundscapes that feature the voices of mammals. Why? Because most mammals keep pretty quiet as they go about their business. Sure, coyote and wolf packs sound off with great enthusiasm every now and then, squirrels and chipmunks chatter and chip when excited, and deer snort and bound away when alarmed. But for the most part, mammals are a quiet lot and it is a true gift when we humans get hear their more intimate mumblings—sounds they make as they “talk to one another” in social situations (for example: calls given during courtship and mating, sounds made by parents communicating with young, and the talkings between young in groups).
The following recording puts your ear at the entrance to a beaver den.
It was early September of 1994 and I was sitting at the edge of a small beaver-dam pond in a forested area near Ithaca, New York. It was almost midnight when the mumblings began. Listen for a breathy growl followed by scraping sounds, and then finally the animated moans of young beaver in and around the den. Notice also the hissy sound of water pouring over the beaver dam at the opposite edge of the pond:
Moaning of young Beaver in and around their den, 11:30 pm, 4 September 1994, Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area, near Ithaca, New York. Recorded by Lang Elliott.
Is this cool or what? You’d never guess that beaver make such sounds. I only became aware of the moaning when I camped near a beaver hut one night in the autumn of 1988. On that occasion, I was awakened in the middle of the night by the strange, otherworldly sounds. I pulled myself out of my tent and went to investigate. Sure enough, the muffled moans were coming from inside the beaver’s den. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any recording gear with me. But at that very moment, I vowed to get a great soundscape recording of this utterly endearing sound-event. Six years later, after a number of failed attempts, I finally snagged a great one!
Let me know what you think!