Loons at Echo Pond

photo of Common Loon by Brian SmallThrough the years, I have avoided spending much time recording Common Loons. I felt that loons were an overworked theme in nature recording, there being numerous CDs that featured their calls. But now that I’m launching a new soundscape series, I wish I had given loons more attention. Without doubt, their wails, yodels, and tremelos are among the most enchanting of northern lake country sounds. Loons are now on the top of my list and I intend to travel to northern Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota this coming spring to in quest of loon-dominated soundscapes.

This is not to say that we don’t have any loon recordings. Consider, for example, the following superb soundscape recorded by Ted Mack in Algonquin Provincial Park:

Loons and Spring Peepers, around midnight, 15 June 1994, North River Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada. Recorded by Ted Mack.

What’s there to complain about here? This recording is exquisite. The echos of the loons are absolutely amazing and the spring peepers add body to the recording. Listen also for the faint musical trills of American Toads and the croaks of a lone Bullfrog (good ears may even detect the calls of a Gray Treefrog way off in the distance).

All three of the loon’s calls can be heard in this soundscape: 1) Wails (drawn-out notes sounding like the howl of a wolf, 2) Yodels (start like a wail but end with wild ecstatic, undulating notes), and 3) tremelos (wavering laugh-like calls often given by a pair; perhaps the most well-known loon call—heard at end of this soundscape).

Any comments? I’m confident that 99.9% of our listeners would only sing words of praise, or perhaps beg for a longer version (which I assure you will be available when I finally launch the soundscape series).


  1. Ethereal!!!! I love it – period. This recording has a presence that is missing in a lot of the commercial loon recordings. Ted is the man!

  2. Entranced by the recording, for reasons I explained on your Facebook wall.

    Regarding avoidance of an overworked theme, a teacher once said to me about the choice of inaction for fear of being trite:

    “There are only five stories in the world, anyway. What matters is what voice you bring to them.”

    Still trying to figure what those five stories are (Love, Death, War…), but that advice has been useful many times over.

    Thanks for bringing these nature recordings to the world, Lang.

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