Voices of the Cloud Forest
by David L. Ross, Jr.

A stereophonic journey through a day in Costa Rica's Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. Step onto the trails in the pre-dawn to a chorus of crickets, Tink Frogs, and Mottled Owl. Experience the amazing roars of a troop of howler monkeys as they announce the day from the canopy. Hear Resplendent Quetzal, Emerald Toucanets, and the yodeling of Prong-billed Barbets. Feel Arenal Volcano shake from the distance, and return through an evening chorus at sunset as frogs, nightbirds and Kinkajous take the stage. The production runs uninterrupted for 33 minutes and then is repeated with the addition of a narrative describing the sounds through the trip.

CD $15.95, Cassette $12.95
Available at the online Cornell Lab Birding Shop (877) 274-3716
and Wild Birds Unlimited at Sapsucker Woods, (877) 266-4928.

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This is a detailed acoustic tapestry, a masterful sonic portrait of a place of magic and impassioned remembrance. The description and narrated portions ring poetically with a synergism between natural utterance and narrated word. This is a mood evocating story of sound. Borne of an almost cliche dawn to dusk format of a day in the anywhere, this example is rich in a reality that few will ever know, as the creatures recorded here have been meticulously place in both the habitats within the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, and in time. The creature within, exist within the place portrayed. This is not a random collection of sounds faded and mixed to fill a segment, but rather a day purposefully drawn from a place so well known that only a few of the many available salient and evocative sounds could be shared.

Curious about the format on the CD? It was originally formatted for cassette, and the 33 minutes reflect the longest segment that could be reproduced on the then best available cassette tape stocks. A 90 minute tape would be made of a thinner stock than a 60 minute tape, as both lengths need to fit in the same cassette tape shell. So the limit was 33 minutes, with a little buffer in cassette duplication. The cassette version has one side narrated, the other side without narration. The CD starts with the first half without narration, then a repeat with narrative. A decade after its release it still in my mind, captures much of the feeling and goal of the project. This one is the culmination of many a predawn and dusk treks, along cloud forest trails both well ahead of the first birders, and well after the last of the impressive numbers of ecotourist have climbed back into the buses for dinner at the lodge. I could show you the patch of bamboo where the quetzal comes to roost,. the ravine where the Azure-hooded Jays come to sleep, the place where the leaftossers call in the predawn, steep cliff edge where the Swallow-tailed Kites soar on updrafts chasing each other and vocalizing as they get close, where one might hear the utterances of Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush amongst moss-covered vines and heath, the canopy crowns where bellbirds bonk, the night perches of Montane Tink Frogs and others... That would cost you plenty as airfare and lodging for me an my family would not be cheap, but you can have this CD for a song :-)

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