Tinkling Trickle

photo of a trickling brook in West VirginiaThe sound of water is universally soothing. Ocean waves washing in, raindrops falling on the forest floor, the trickling sounds of a small brook . . . all have deep and timeless qualities that help calm the mind. Many times in my life, I have sat for hours next to streams, absorbed in the mesmerizing soundscape that is at once changing, yet always the same.

I made the following trickling brook recording in the mountains of West Virginia during the spring of 2000. I was captivated by the “tinkling” sound of the water, and I was pleased that the bird songs remained subtle throughout:

A trickling stream at dawn with subtle bird sounds, 29 May 2000. Cranberry Glades Natural Area, near Marlinton, West Virginia. Recorded by Lang Elliott.

Now for a quiz! What birds are singing in this recording? Yes, there is a robin sounding off in the distance, but who are the two or three high-pitchy singers heard periodically in the soundscape?


  1. Well, the sonogram does look like a junco but I have seen swamp sparrows well in from the edge of the bog. The hooded does sound like hooded to me rather than magnolia. As for the two-part singer at the beginning – I am working on that one.

  2. I think I know exactly this spot. It is certainly a beautiful place. This is a magical recording as it takes me right to that spot and I can almost smell the forest and bog.
    Hood warbler, junco, Am. robin, swamp sparrow, ruby-crowned kinglet, and possibly a blackburnian warbler giving one song 3/4 the way through.

    • I was thinking that was perhaps a Magnolia Warbler, rather than Hooded. Are Magnolia’s found thereabouts? Interesting you mention Swamp Sparrow. Do you think that maybe the Junco is a Swamp? Remembering the exact habitat, it was more in forest next to a patch of spruces (a Norway plantation?), rather than out in the glade itself. That’s why I guessed Junco. What bird (warbler?) do you think is making the two-parted trill at the beginning of the recording?

  3. Is that a chipping sparrow sounding off periodically throughout the recording? Nice work; I agree that it is easy to sit for hours by a stream, mesmorized by the water and the nature all around me.

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