photo of a Winter Wren by Lang ElliottWhen I launch my soundscape series of products, I plan to include a title called “Songbird Portraits,” which will include recordings of a variety of my favorite singers. These will differ from most of my other soundscape recordings in that individual singers will be prominently featured, even though embedded in a wide soundscape.

The following recording of a Winter Wren is a good example. The male was singing from the top of a tall conifer next to a babbling brook and I was excited by the pleasurable mix of sound. The wren’s complex and silvery song was prominent but not overwhelming. The gurgling of the brook sounded nice to my ear. What’s more, there were two Wood Thrushes fluting in the background. Everything went well, except that while setting up I tripped over the microphone cable, lost my balance, and fell into the stream! Hrmph! No damage done, thankfully, and I managed to get my recording with a smile on my face:

Soundscape portrait of a Winter Wren with a babbling brook, Wood Thrush, and other bird songs, 6am, 9 May 2006, Shindagin Hollow near Brooktondale, New York. Recorded by Lang Elliott.

I would like some feedback here. I believe most folks will like the sound of this recording, but I wonder how long they might want to play it. Would it get tiring to listen-to after a few minutes?

For relaxing soundscapes, I intend to offer tracks that are five to ten minutes long. But for species portraits like this one, my hunch is that tracks should should be shorter, perhaps lasting around three or four minutes. What does everyone think? One advantage of making species portraits rather brief is that I could cover more birds and include fifteen or more species portraits in the one title (for a total of 60-70 minutes). Or maybe that would be foolish. Maybe a recording like this should last five minutes or more. Whatya think?


  1. I hear a Black-Capped Chickadee, Wood Thrushes, American Robins, an Ovenbird, a Red-Breasted Nuthatch,the Winter Wren (of course), and a Common Yellowthroat.

  2. hello Lang
    amazing what you did, so many wonderful recordings, i do certainly enjoy listening to the
    WINTER WREN PORTRAIT and WRENSONG- here in northgermany a wren is visiting my balcony every day
    several times feeding mealworms which i put out hidden under small pieces of wood, the wren loves them.
    thanks, keep up the good work

  3. Lang, whenever I hear a winter wren i know that I’m in a sacred space.

    For id purposes, 2 -3 minutes is fine.
    For relaxation more is better.

    Some recordings, like the one on your Home Page continuously replays without a “button”. If other recordings had this ability, it would be worthwhile to me.

    Peace and thank you

    • Bobbye: I have mixed feelings about providing continously-looping recordings. If I do that, folks will play it all day long, which ties up bandwidth. That’s less of a problem now than in the past, but it’s still a concern. When I launch my product series, I’ll include samples of all the tracks. Again, if I make it continuous play, folks would have less of a reason to actually buy and download the product. Instead, they would go to the product page, and then just listen as the tracks play through and then auto repeat. Do you think my reasoning is correct here?

  4. I thoroughly enjoy listening to your recordings but don’t get to it every day. (My computer has terrible speakers.) For a track featuring a Winter Wren, I think the Wood Thrush was a little to prominent. I think I would like it even better if the Wood Thrush were a bit more ‘distant’.

  5. I agree with the others in that it should be longer…I closed my eyes and was surprised when it ended. I love this little wren and the wood thrush is one of my favorite…thanks so very very much.

  6. Hi Lang, My bird photographer son, Ed Schneider sent me your way. We used to live in Washington County, NY. Moved to TN seven years ago.
    Love that winter wren & the brook. Like your idea of several short clips of different birds, etc as a compilation. Great fidelity. Sorry about your fall; hope it wasn’t too cold. Check with Ed if you are looking for good avian shots.Good Luck… phs

  7. I could listen to this for a long time as well. It is refreshing and interesting to hear the different voices come and go during the recording. A longer example would add to the enjoyment. I would go 8-10 minutes.

  8. I love it! I, too, could listen to this for a long time. I don’t know about you, but I think this is worth a little soaking for!

  9. This is so beautiful. I think I could listen to it for longer, rather than shorter. Had to smile at you falling in the creek (sorry about that).

  10. I could refresh in this, just as it is, for a long time. But I hear the chortles of a joyous creek 24/7 and am visited by winter wrens, so it is not just amazing in natural artistry but beloved old home to me. Perhaps as you orchestrate avian ‘performances’ into CD/DVD length compositions, such invigorating coloratura solos could be interspersed more than once? I can’t think of a more resplendant expression of heart than this song. Some things in life are quite worth a soaker 🙂

    • “invigorating coloratura solos” . . . Sharon, you are a master with words. Not being a classical music buff, I had to look up “coloratura.” I was pleased to find the terms refers to “elaborate music” containing “runs, trills, wide leaps, or similar virtuoso-like material” (from Wikipedia). How fitting for the song of the Winter Wren, clearly one of most invigorating of all coloraturas! When I begin writing descriptions of my soundscape titles, I would love to draw upon your expertise. Might you be available to help?

  11. I am not sure I could ever get tired of the winter wren… I love this recording and can close my eyes and be in Shindagin Hollow.. Thanks Lang!!!

  12. Hi, Lang

    This is gorgeous. Part of me thinks 2 minutes would be enough, and another part of me doesn’t want it to end. So I think this is probably a good length for a product, rather than maybe on a website.

    The winter wren is certainly one of my (many) favorites, enough to make one cast away one’s business and just keep wandering.


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