Chaparral Concerto

photo of Chaparral Wildlife Management Area by Texas Parks & Wildlife

Having just corresponded with a friend who lives in south Texas, I’ve decided to post a soundscape from that region. I recorded the following dawn chorus in late May of 2005 in Chaparral Wildlife Management Area, which is about a 100 miles southwest of San Antonio, Texas. The refuge encompasses over 15,000 acres of South Texas Brush Country, characterized by impenetrable thickets of mesquite, acacia, prickly pear, and wild olive. Such habitat is the home of Cactus Wren, Ground Dove, Greater Roadrunner, Olive Sparrow, Northern Bobwhite, and Golden-fronted Woodpecker—all of which can be heard in this soundscape:

Dawn chorus in South Texas Brush Country, 6:30 am, 20 May 2005, Chaparral WMA near Artesia Springs, Texas. Recorded by Lang Elliott.

This is a rich and busy soundscape. A ground dove calls regularly throughout, its coos all on one pitch. In contrast, roadrunners give a series of four or more low coos that drop in pitch from beginning to end. A Cactus Wren gives it’s mechanical, rattling trills repeatedly. Listen also for the high-pitched songs of an Olive Sparrow, the individual notes speeding up from beginning to end. A single Northern Bobwhite periodically sounds off with both calls and song. I believe I hear a Northern Cardinal singing at times, but it might be a Pyrrhuloxia. A Golden-fronted Woodpecker gives a series of nasal churrs late in the recording.

Do you like this one? It is busy, yes, but it’s fairly easy on the ears (please don’t play it too loudly). It is certainly a glowing testament to the amazing diversity of birds found in the dense scrub habitat.


  1. This recording is quite nice. I love trying to make sense of any dawn chorus, still trying to decipher the OLSP and ROAD. Thank you for posting these.

    • The olive sparrow song is a series of high chips that speed up from beginning to end. The roadrunner coos could be easily confused with the ground dove coos in this recording (the latter being dominant throughout). However, the roadrunner’s song is a series of four to around eight coos that drop in pitch from beginning to end. Also, they are a little bit lower in pitch than the dove coos.

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