Our native thrushes often sing at dusk, just before going to roost for the night. I’ve always considered such songs to represent a transition into darkness, a “portal” into the mysteries of the night.
In early June of 2000, I was lucky enough to find a Swainson’s Thrush (Olive-backed Thrush) singing at dusk next to a small brook in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. A second thrush was answering in the distance and Spring Peepers were sounding off from a nearby marsh. I felt incredibly fortunate to witness this beautiful sound event.
Of all our thrushes, I like the song of the Swainson’s the best. It is an upward jumble of musical, flutey notes. It is quite magical, one of the most stunning performances that grace mixed forests and conifer woods of northern areas. Over the years, I have worked very hard to capture the essence of this species’ song, and this soundscape comes as close as any to fulfilling that impossible goal:
Swainson’s Thrush singing at dusk with another in the background, 8:15 pm am, 9 June 2000, Floodwood Road, near Lake Clear, New York. Recorded by Lang Elliott.
How could anyone not enjoy this recording? The balance seems perfect. The thrush songs are loud and clear, yet reverberant, and do not jangle the ear. The gurgling brook adds a relaxing element, as do the distant calls of Spring Peepers. A Ruffed Grouse drums every minute or so as if he couldn’t help but join the choir. This is the music of nature at its very best. Breathe it in and let go of all your cares and woes.
Question: While this recording is appealing to my ear, I wonder how long it would be comfortable to listen to. If I feature it in a soundscape title, should it run for just a few minutes, or up to seven or eight minutes? My friend Bob thinks he would get tired of listening to it after just a few minutes because it’s primarily composed of one bird singing song after song after song. My feeling is that I could listen to it easily for five minutes or more and still not tire of the experience, as long as I keep the volume at a comfortable level. What do you think?