Raven Resonations

photo of a Common Raven by Brian SmallToday, I spent some time searching through our sound archives in hopes of finding something special that I had overlooked. I was not disappointed. I uncovered the following wonderful recording of Common Ravens, captured by Ted Mack in Alaska in 2002. I was unable to find the exact date and location, but I thought I’d go ahead and share it anyway.

As you will hear, the magic is in reverberation. When the nearby raven calls, his deep croaks bounce off the landscape, creating a resonant echo that decays ever-so-slowly:

Raven croaks. Recorded in Alaska in 2002 by Ted Mack.

Isn’t this fabulous? It’s a true “dimensional soundscape” in the strictest sense. There are a number of other birds sounding off in the recording. I hear Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Robin, Varied Thrush, and a distant Sandhill Crane. You tell me who the really high singers are. The woodpecker, I would guess, is a Three-toed (because its drum trails off at the end).

What a terrific find!


  1. I too heard the Swainson’s Thrush flight calls, and I even thought I heard a Northern Hawk Owl. The possible hawk owl trill starts at 1:21, and is faint. Other than that, I didn’t here any additional birds mentioned. If you listen very closely through headphones, you can here several cranes calling at once.

    The echoes of the ravens are amazing. It shows you just how remote Alaska is. If a raven called here in Three Rivers, MI, it probably would hardly echo.

    At 3:02 through 3:08, I heard a strange bird call that is almost screamlike. Maybe it’s not a bird, it could be some sort of Alaskan mammal. It calls several other times after 3:08 too.

  2. Sharon: There isn’t anything wrong with armchair traveling. I do it all the time, while I sit here in front of my computer editing soundscapes gathered over the past twenty years. When I listen to one of my own recordings, I am instantly transported back to that particular place and time. I relive it virtually, often with considerable intensity. Sounds have a way of bringing back vivid living memories, perhaps more so than photographs, I presume because sound recordings are incredibly alive and moving, and do not convey a fixed slice of time (as do photos).

  3. This is a great one. I just reread “Bird Brains” (Candace Savage on ictarids) so I was tickled to hear this today. The ravens sound like brass horns played with mutes (?) in place (not sure what those things are that muffle the strident brass voices). And I would have guessed peepers, also; that little ST does a fine imitation. As largely an armchair traveler, these soundscapes of yours take me to places I’ve never been and may never go, so my world is enlarged and I am enriched by hearing and enjoying them. Many thanks 🙂

    • Jerry: Those few peeps are the flight notes of a Swainson’s Thrush. When I first listened to this recording, I also heard those peeps and immediately thought “Spring Peeper,” but I quickly revised my ID in light of the fact that there are no peepers in Alaska (that is, unless several fell from the clouds during some huge storm of the “raining frogs” type).

  4. Verry nice. I just love the fabulous echoes of the ravens. The woodpecker and song birds add a rich fullness to the recording. Thanks for all the great sounds you make available; I look forward to reading your posts and listening to the audio, and I check the blog daily. I love it!

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