Do You Hear Bird Song in the Morning?

A sure sign that spring is arriving is hearing birdsong in the morning, just before the sun rises. I get to hear that. Do you?

“Over increasingly large areas of the United States,” wrote Rachel Carson in Silent Spring, “spring now comes unheralded by the return of the birds. The early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song.”

The loss of natural sounds is spawning a new field of study called soundscape ecology. The effort is led by ecologist Bryan Pijanowski of Purdue University and colleagues.

They are studying:

  • Biophony – the music created by organisms like frogs and birds
  • Geophony – the composition of non-biological sounds like wind, rain, and thunder
  • Anthrophony – the conglomeration of noise from humans

At Oregon Ridge Park, now is a wonderful time of year to hear the entire spectrum of soundscapes:

  • Biophony is created by the “quacking” of wood frogs and the “peeps” from the Spring Peeper frogs in the meadow pond and vernal pool, and the variety of birds singing, chirping, and tweeting in the woods
  • Geophony is the sound of the wind through the trees along the hiking trails and the rustling of the leaves blowing across the path
  • Anthrophony is the ever-present sound of airplanes overhead and the hum of distant traffic on Shawan Road and I-83.

More about the work and the importance of natural sounds to avoid Nature Deficit Disorder is found in this article on PhysOrg dot com.

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