I almost always have music playing. I have radios, cd players, mp3 players, and music on my computer and phone. But when I go hiking I don’t take anything for music. Nature has its own song.
The rhythm section is filled by the frogs. Frogs aren’t the most melodic animals, but add a beat to the song of the woods. Cricket frogs have a clicking noise that to me sounds like marbles clacking together. Green Tree frogs look cute and small, but have a loud noise best described as a bark. And when you talk about frogs, you can’t forget the bullfrog, with its load croak that can be heard from more than a quarter of a mile away.
The background vocals are provided by the insects. I like the katydids with their cry of “katy-DID, katy-DID.” Late summer brings the cicadas which produce a constant hum, a sound that for many people becomes so common it fades into the background. Crickets not only add to the background music, but you can actually figure out the temperature by counting the chirps of certain species.
Without a doubt, the lead singers of the woods are the birds. Right now the mockingbirds seem to drown out everyone else, as if trying to steal center stage at the concert. That doesn’t stop the others from singing though. Every bird keeps up its call and they sing with no thought to harmonies and chords. Despite the chaos of too many leads, it has a unique sound that works in a way that I don’t truly understand, but I certainly appreciate.
The best thing about this song is that it changes from day to day, moment to moment. Some animals are out during the day, others only call at night. Different species are calling at different times of the year. This means that I don’t ever get bored; I just wait a little while and see what changes.
So take some time to visit an Arkansas State Park near you, there will be plenty of opportunities to listen. Don’t forget to try a few different areas and times of the day. Also, many parks offer programs that will help you figure out what it is you are listening to. If you haven’t listened to the music of the woods lately, it is definitely time to turn off the radio and head outside.
Heather Runyan graduated from Henderson State University with a bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Park Administration and after college served two terms as an AmeriCorps member. She began working for Arkansas State Parks in 2006 as the Park Interpreter at Crowley’s Ridge State Park. Heather is a member of the National Association for Interpretation and a Certified Interpretive Guide.