When we think of woodpecker sounds we usually think of the rat-a-tat-tat of the territorial drill that the males use. However, when woodpeckers are feeding, the pecks sound totally random in timing and in loudness. This random variability though, is recognizable as a distinct sound. In other words, all feeding woodpeckers sound much the same, and nothing else in the boreal forest has a similar sound. This is the type of woodpecker sound in "Windy Woodpecker" ©. The other primary sound in this recording is wind. Also a distant raven is heard at one point, and a chickadee is heard nearby for about 10 seconds at another point.
It is very rare that good recording just happens by accident. The recording location of Windy Woodpecker was carefully chosen with the area topography taken into account as well as the different stands of trees that were occurring at different distances from the recording site. All these variables have an impact on the voices of the wind, on their apparent movement, and on their personality.
During the search for that ideal place to catch these voices, and while making a trail through the forest on snowshoes, I saw lynx tracks. On impulse, I turned and followed the tracks, which led me into an ideal recording spot. It was a small clearing surrounded by tall black spruce - a place well protected from ground level gusts that could create distracting microphone rumble. Also, it was a place that had high evergreen foliage that sings well to the song of the wind. Old Man’s Beard, Reindeer Moss, and other lichen, draped in clumps from branches. There was a gentle rise to northwest, which offered further protection, and from that clearing, one could hear the wind progress from one tree stand to the next through the surrounding forest.
It was in the last part of winter and yet the cold winter winds were not letting up, swirling and blowing through the boreal forest. Frozen branches creak and strain, twigs snap and break, and larger animals hunker down for shelter against the chill. In the middle of this a small black-backed woodpecker obliviously pecks away on its favorite food source - a dead black spruce in the grove. As strong dominating winds rumble and roar, one hears heavy gusts approach the grove and pass through. The little woodpecker continues feeding by poking holes through and removing chunks of bark which fall to the snow in front of the microphones.
Nestled down in a protective tall black spruce grove... an interesting juxtaposition becomes apparent when listening to the smooth ebb and flow of wind gusts compared to the sharp striking sounds of the woodpecker. Sometimes the winds are so strong that the woodpecker sounds are drowned out by the heavy winds. He reappears seconds later, and is still tapping, oblivious to the rest of the environment. It reminds me that no matter what may be storming around me, my well-being also depends on what I focus on.
Windy Woodpecker © features a long 10 second fade-in at the beginning and a slow fade-out at the end so there are no sudden disturbing interruptions when played looped. Windy Woodpecker © is a natural minimalist soundscape composed of edited and mixed digital stereo quasi-binaural field recordings. This recording technique produces a 3 dimensional audio image when listening with headphones. Encoded at a bitrate of 192 kps for quality listening. There are no loops.