Shindagin Hollow Overlook

photo of Shindagin Hollow Overlook

Of the many soundscape impressions I’ve gathered in Shindagin Hollow, this morning’s dawn chorus ranks among the best. For me, it was magical indeed, as I sat in the still darkness at the top of an overlook, immersed in listening as the twittering of the birds gradually expanded with the light.

Though late in the season for bird song, there is still a captivating performance in the twilight of dawn. This morning (July 10), the first bird (a Scarlet Tanager) began singing around 4:45 am. The chorus peaked within fifteen minutes, ran full tilt for another fifteen minutes, and then gradually tapered off. By 5:45 it was only a pale reminder of its prior self.

Below is a sample of the chorus at its peak. A Scarlet Tanager sings it’s burry dawn song throughout while Hermit Thrushes and Wood Thrushes chime in. Most notably, a Barred Owl hoots periodically from the hollow below. Do not turn the volume up too high … this is intended to be a gentle, subtle listening experience:

Dawn chorus at Shindagin Hollow Overlook. 5am, July 10, 2012. Lang Elliott

I was so moved by this chorus that I began thinking about the magic of the natural soundscape and how we perceive it … how it differs so markedly from our visual experience and how amazingly intimate the sound experience is. Here are my musings, recorded on location, just before I gathered up my gear and headed back into town:

Lang talking about the experience of listening to nature soundscapes, 6am, July 10, 2012.


  1. Thanks Mark. Glad you noticed the distance Barred Owl. You must have a quiet listening space. I imagine a lot of folks listen using tiny laptop speakers in noisy environments. BTW, we’ve been working hard on figuring out how to do our sound visualizations and I think we’ve settled on making little movies of the sounds playing in our favorite audio editing software, Izotope RX. They seem to work just fine on mobile devices and in all the browsers, as long as they are mp4 files.

    • Glad you like it Gina. I can’t wait to make this stuff available. Perhaps by the end of the month I’ll kick things off with regard to selling soundscapes.

  2. One can only feel blessed having had the opportunity to experience this. Thank you so very much for sharing that.

  3. Beautiful soundscape, and I also love your musings!! Being blind I never have visual things to distract me from sound–that makes listening to the music of nature all the more a rewarding experience!

  4. One thing I really like about this soundscape is that none of the birds sound off too loudly … they all keep their distance, a perfect distance, so that the listening experience is smooth, unruffled. All too often, a bird or other “sound object” comes in too close, sounds off too loudly, thereby jarring one’s senses. While that can be interesting and captivating in the wild (if you are actually “there’), the effect is unpleasant over speakers. For the soundscape recordist, it is a constant battle to maintain one’s distance from the sound sources (birds, frogs, insects, etc.) so that the resulting recording is truly pleasurable to behold.

  5. The sense of space, distance and stillness you’ve captured is simply wonderful! Those of us who live in the city (whether we want to or not) very rarely get to hear this kind of quiet and peace because of all the human-generated noise even in the areas around our largest parks.

    Thanks so much for sharing this splendid recording with us! Love those owls!

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