Whitewater Lake Chorus

Whitewater Lake (Canadian Important Bird Area) from walkenshawplace.netEvery so often, I stumble upon a dawn chorus so rich and vibrant that I am awestruck by the remarkable diversity of sounds and the way they combine to create a well-rounded soundscape.

Such was the case on the morning of June 4, 1993. I was visiting Whitewater Lake, a “Canadian Important Bird Area” located in southwestern Manitoba. In the darkness, I drove to Sexton Island, along the north shore of the lake. I stepped out of my van at first light (5:30am) and the dawn chorus flooded over me like a wave. I was at prairie’s edge, with a large patch of tangled shrubs and small trees in front of me. I scrambled to set up my microphone and managed to capture twelve exquisite minutes before a prop plane ended my effort. Here is a sample:

Rich dawn chorus, 5:30am, 4 June 1993, Sexton Island, along north shore of Whitewater Lake near Boissevain in southwestern Manitoba. Recording © Lang Elliott.

What makes this recording so special? First, there is a wonderful diversity of songbird sounds, ranging from as low as 1000 Hz all the way up to 8000 Hz (and sometimes beyond). Listen for the songs and calls of Gray Catbird, Eastern Kingbird, Western Kingbird, Clay-colored Sparrow, a prominent warbler (what species it that anyway?), Red-winged Blackbird, and more. The lower frequency range, from 500-1000 Hz, is also full of sound. Mourning Doves coo throughout. Woodpeckers drum periodically. Listen closely and you’ll hear the soft grunts of Sharp-tailed Grouse.

photo of Lang ElliottThis is a busy chorus, for sure, but I find it supremely enjoyable. It so full of life and vigor—nature bubbling over with sound—a powerful expression of health and vitality. In the dead of winter, it is difficult to fathom that a scraggly patch of brush holds such promise, such sweetness, the music of nature at its very best.


  1. I hear Mourning Doves, House Wrens, a woodpecker, Sharp-Tailed Grouse, Eastern Kingbirds, Western Kingbirds, a Gray Catbird, Clay-Colored Sparrows, Northern Flickers, Yellow Warblers (I think that’s the warbler that’s singing and calling prominently), I think a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, and a Sora at the end.

    I saw my lifer Soras yesterday, and in the beginning when we were there (Mintdale Road), we heard one Sora then a few others responded. I saw at least three of them, and I think they were obviously migrating.

  2. Again, a wonderful mix of vocalizations. I would suggest lowering the level of the Mourning Doves just a bit. Right now they are a bit too prominent and take attention away from the rest of the chorus.


  3. What a terrific find. This is nice and rich but very relaxing and enjoyable. I hear a house wren, yellow warbler, and what sounds like a tree swallow ever now and then. I keep listening to it over and over to find things I have missed.
    Very nice.

  4. Hi Lang,

    This is an incredible recording. I am excited about your new year’s resolution and I’m enjoying your soundsacpes immensely!


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