Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sounds Overheard: Alligator Primeval Love Songs

An alligator at sunrise in Everglades National Park.

Listening to big old bull alligators bellow is a primeval experience. After 200 million years on earth, these guys have perfected a low, deep, rumbling sound that raises the hair on the back of your neck. Creepy, and thrilling.


  •  0:00 two male alligators bellow
  •  0:25 alligators thrash
  •  0:38 bees in tree canopy
  •  0:55 Northern Cardinal sings
  •  1:01 Barred Owl in background
  •  1:27 Red-winged Blackbirds
  •  1:52 White Ibis fly overhead
I was deep inside a hardwood hammock in Everglades National Park, and two love struck males were bellowing back and forth as they competed for the affections of a lone female. The three occupied a living room sized water hole, a small refuge during this month’s height of the dry season. I imagined the female being enthralled by their macho display. I kept my distance.

While they arched their backs and raised their massive heads out of the water, I recorded the low rumbles emanating from their vibrating diaphragms. The water along side them pulsated, with tiny water droplets shooting upward from the surface. After their squabble echoed off the surrounding trees, I was left alone with the quiet sounds of a frog or two, a lone cricket, and the low buzz of bees high above in the flowering tree canopy.

At the edge of the hammock I captured song birds, including the Northern Cardinal while a Barred Owl hooted way off in the distance. Upon emerging onto the sawgrass prairie, a rambunctious group of Red-winged blackbirds were chattering away. Then complete silence, broken only when the beating wings of six White Ibis flew right over my head, the leader squawking directions to the group.

During my assignments and travels I've been recording the sounds I overhear, and many don't have supporting photographs or stories. This occasional series will be my excuse to share my audio orphans, these Sounds Overheard.

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