Monday, August 31, 2015

Seasonal Symphony

I probably should just learn how to record and insert a sound clip... but instead I will try to describe the dog day sounds of the prairie.  It's amazingly noisy out there.  There are constant buzzings and and dronings, chirps and whirrs and chitters and trills.  They come from every direction, and sound like they are both far away and incredible close.  (Though I can NEVER find a cicada or a cricket when one seems to be singing right near me, it's crazy.  The other day, I came across a co-worker who appeared to be staring into the branches of a tree.  Knowing that someone staring at tree branches is most likely looking at something I will find interesting, I asked what he was looking at... the answer?  Nothing -- he wanted to find the cicada that seemed so close but was completely elusive  At any rate...)  Some of the calls seem like a constant backdrop.  Others crescendo and decrescendo.  Still others pulse like waves.  Mwow, mwow, mwow... There's my attempt at an onomatopoetic description.  There's an incredible diversity of voices out there!

Of course, it's not really voices or singing (except for the few birds that do chime in).  The insects that create our late summer prairie symphony -- cicadas, crickets, grasshoppers and katydids, at least -- are in the percussion section.  Their sounds are created by stridulation, or rubbing body parts together.  Many species have ridged or bumpy wings just for that purpose.  The wing membranes also amplify the sounds, and they do a darn good job at it!  Those are loud noises for little critters.

Enjoy the sounds of the season!

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