Long Pine Predawn

photo of pines at sunsetSeveral years ago, my friend Beth and I visited the Everglades National Park in late May in hopes of videotaping frogs and toads. Unfortunately, it never rained and there was virtually no amphibian activity. So we spent most of time sound recording.

One of my favorite soundscapes from our trip is a predawn recording made at Long Pine Key campground. It is rich with sound. Greenhouse Frogs chirp like crazy from the shrubs surrounding our campsite. High-pitched insects give buzzy trills and Common Nighthawks give nasal peents. Chuck-will’s-widows sound off in the distance, their songs echoing through the pine woods. The most interesting sound is at the bottom end of the frequency spectrum: the booming of the nighthawks. Their airy expulsions (which remind one of “you know what”) occur when they dive toward the ground and then suddenly swoop upward, the air rushing through their spread wings:

Predawn soundscape from Long Pine Key campground in Everglades National Park. 4am, May 28, 2008. Recorded by Lang Elliott.

Though fairly busy, I am captivated by the mixture of sound. In particular, the numerous booms of the nighthawks create a flavor that is unusual among soundscapes.


  1. I like your term “blind listening” because I find I do that a lot. It is the mix of sounds that entrances me. This is a great example. I would have guessed the nighthawks to be alligators. Love those frogs. They do sound like wind chimes.

  2. I listened to this before reading, and if you had not labelled the nighthawks I would have guessed the sound came from elephants, or workers sliding heavy metal file cabinets! I love the fluid ‘bamboo windchimes. I’m just mystified that such a rich, dense, chorus of teeming energy somehow leaves me with a sense of exotic dreaminess. Ain’t Mother Nature grand?

    • it does have an exotic feel to it. there is a type of listening called “blind listening” where one does not try to label any of the sounds. instead, just listen and feel, or else only differentiate particular sounds as “sound objects” rather than sounds created by this or that animal. as such, one rests in the womb of the soundscape itself, the pure sensory experience, without bringing to bear a strong action of mind.

  3. Lovely familiar sounds; not far from where I grew up. I don’t remember the nighthawks’ booms, though…what an amazing roar!

    • There were nighthawks all over the place in the north section of the glades along the highway, peenting and booming over the broad expanses of grass. Even though the campground was primariiy in pine woods, I believe the distant nighthawks were flying over the open areas.

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