Tuning into Sounds

How to Timberdoode

This place is home to the American Woodcock, a.k.a. the "Timberdoodle." This fun yet cryptic bird is best found by ear in the spring. Learn how to "timberdoodle" below.


Sounds through the Seasons

Listen to recordings of the soundscape from this exact spot at different times throughout the year.



Listening through the Year

Depending on the season, you can hear Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs in the distance, birds like Timberdoodles and Tree Swallows in the field, insects buzzing, leaves rustling, geese honking, ice breaking up in the river, and more from this spot. 

The sounds (alitôgwakil) of this landscape change over longer time periods too. We planted trees here that we think will thrive in Vermont’s warming climate. We don’t know yet what this field will sound like once it grows into a mature forest, but we hope these plantings will help this landscape stay resilient to climate change and filled with noisy birds and insects forever.

Alitôgwakil means "the way things sound" in Abenaki.

Deer Ears

Put on your Deer Ears by cupping your hands behind your ears and tune in to the sounds around you. Close your eyes if you feel comfortable. How many different sounds can you hear? Do you know what they are? Listen (kita) carefully and think about how these sounds relate to the time of day or year, or just enjoy the quietness if that’s what you notice. Then use the QR code to listen to recordings from this same spot at different times of day and year.

Birdsong Apps

Check out Merlin, a revolutionary new app by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that listens to and identifies birdsong in real time on your phone!

Temperature & Oxygen

Riffles and waterfalls infuse streams with oxygen — and cold water can hold twice as much oxygen as warm water. The shaded, turbulent waters of healthy headwaters streams are fed by groundwater emanating from cracks in the cool underground bedrock. This cold, shaded, oxygen-rich environment is a fantastic place for aquatic invertebrates, and it supplies the whole downstream watershed with a clean, healthy water source. When headwaters lose their shade due to forest clearing or other development, the resulting rise in water temperature can make the stream uninhabitable to many fish and insects.

Trees & Leaves

The trees over a healthy headwaters stream provide a buffet for aquatic life. Insects falling from the treetops become food for fish. Leaves fall and decompose, becoming a nitrogen source for the aquatic ecosystem. As fallen leaves stack up against river rocks like pages of a book, they provide shelter for many organisms. And many aquatic insects need to go ashore and climb a tree to finish their life cycle as adults.

Habitat Diversity

Some rivers hold more diversity underwater than forests hold on land. Every aquatic species prefers different conditions. Some species need slow water, and some need fast water. Some need large cracks between rocks, while some need sandy bottoms. Many fish require submerged boulders and tree trunks in which to hunt or hide. Some creatures depend on colder water, and others slightly warmer. Some prefer rough water, and others prefer deeper, slow-moving pools. A healthy river system can contain all this habitat diversity in just a short stretch.

North Branch Nature Center

713 Elm Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
(802) 229-6206

Hours: Center Open Monday-Friday 9-4
Trails Open 24/7