Bernie Krause was an early pioneer of electronic music. Eventually his interests turned to the chorus of the outdoors. He started recording soundscapes and has amassed an extensive collection of nature sounds. Studying those sounds has given him insight into how animals communicate with one another and the origins of music. In this interview with Anne Strainchamps, Krause describes and plays some selections from his unique collection of sounds.
Bernie Krause has been recording the wild — the wind in the trees, the chirping of birds — for 45 years. He has seen many environments radically altered by humans, sometimes even by practices thought to be environmentally safe.
This young whooping crane is on its first fall migration, guided by an Operation Migration ultralight aircraft. Each whooper in this population wears an identification band, and many carry tracking devices that record their movements in detail.
Credit Heather Ray / Operation Migration USA Inc.
All the whooping cranes studied by the University of Maryland team received the same initial flight training as chicks, following an Operation Migration ultralight from Wisconsin to Florida in the fall. The Science study looked at data on their subsequent migrations — without the plane — beginning with the following spring.
Being a wildlife biologist in the 21st century increasingly means rescuing rare animals from extinction. Among the success stories is the whooping crane. Seventy years ago there were only about 16 birds left on the planet. Now there are about 600.
The federal government has pushed back the possible threatened listing of two rare plants that could affect farmers in southeast Washington. Umtanum desert buckwheat and the White Bluffs bladderpod have become very controversial, because part of the plants’ habitat spans valuable crop ground.
It’s a big topic of conversation at the Country Mercantile restaurant where many Franklin County farmers lunch. Ami MacHugh is an area cherry and horse farmer whose land could be affected by the possible federal protections.
THUD. It’s the sickening sound of a bird hitting your window. You hope it’s just stunned; that it will fly off. But there it is: A motionless lump of feathers on the ground. Before you bury it or toss it in the trash, consider an alternative. Some Seattle residents are donating these avian casualties to science.
Just as humans aren’t born knowing how to talk, birds aren’t born knowing what songs to sing. Take the song sparrow: Their songs are combinations of buzzing, trilling and music notes. Each song sends a message: “This is my territory,” or “Don’t mess with me.”
An aggressive sparrow mimics another bird's song, like a sort of playground argument. “Stop copying me.” “Stop copying me.” “Stop it!” “Stop it!” – until it comes to blows. Michael Beecher has been studying sparrow communication for nearly 30 years. Katy Sewall joins him in the field to start a sparrow fight.
Earth is an always-changing planet. Earthquakes thrust new mountains upward, sea ice melts, oceans rise, deserts spread, species die, civilizations collapse. Award-winning writer and commentator Craig Childs traveled to the desolate places on Earth where forces of nature are forever remaking the planet. He joins us to discuss his newest book, “Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth.”