Nature Notes

Spring Onomatopoeia

By Sydney Chandler

Gurgle gurgle gurgle. It’s exciting to welcome back the sound of running water. Based on the trails of animal prints, running water is an attraction for animals as well. Patter patter patter splash sploosh. Along the Three Mile Drive, a mix of anthropogenic and natural sounds are present. And there’s a gap where other anticipated sounds are not yet heard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPatter patter patter . . . splash sploosh

 A mix of calls speckle the soundscape. Chirp chirp. Some calls are distant. Caw caw caw. But others come from a nearby tree. Cheer cheer cheer. The bird calls change throughout the grounds, and the Linden Collection garden is particularly quiet. At the Harrison Sculpture Garden, a rafter of turkeys shows off. A throaty coughing vocalization accompanies their proud strutting. Chump chump chump. The Sculpture Garden seems a fitting place to show off proud feathers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChump chump chump . . . rustle rustle

The memory of buzz buzz buzz enters the mind’s ear with the sight of a quiet bee hive. The drones and scurries of other summer insects will return with warming temperatures. Chirr chirr. For now, we hear the movement of other animals. Tk tk tk of  tiny squirrel claws scamper on tree branches. And a mechanical hinging flap flap flap of geese wings flies overhead.


 Animals and birds are not the only contributors to the soundscape. Anthropogenic sounds demonstrate how we interact with our environment. Murmur murmur. There’s a busy chatter of workers coming from the maple syrup house. Rustle rustle shuffle shuffle rustle as visitors trace the trails while happily shedding extra layers of bulky winter clothing.


Drip drip drip of spring melting is a welcome backdrop to spring sounds. Listen closely on your next visit: What do you hear? What familiar sounds are missing? And what stories do these sounds tell?

Sydney Chandler is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

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