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jeseymour
03-12-2011, 06:19 PM
I have a scene in my WIP where the MC, a fugitive, calls his wife. There's a tap on her phone. I had the Feds listening in identify it as a rural area by the sound of the tree frogs (peepers) in the background. It's set in New York's Hudson river valley, north of Poughkeepsie. A beta reader said peepers are only around in the spring, and this is set in early August. I could swear I've heard peepers all summer long, any time I pass a pond in the evening. (I'm in New England.) I did some research via google and read something that said they only call for 8 weeks in the spring, but found someone complaining about hearing them all summer. So, if not peepers, what can I use for background noises that will give my Feds a clue that my protagonist is not in the city? Does anybody else hear peepers in August (evening, just after dusk, near water?) If that noise is not peepers, what is it?

alleycat
03-12-2011, 06:26 PM
I'm not familiar with the sounds of rural areas in NY, but some possibilities:

Bull frogs
Rain crows
Whip-poor-wills (at night)
Crows (yes, they are everywhere, but more common in the country)
Cows! Chickens! ;-)

PeterL
03-12-2011, 06:26 PM
I have also heard sounds like Spring peepers in the Summer, but it may be another species. You don't hsve to be specific, because there are many insect sounds, and some of those may be similar to peepers.

milly
03-12-2011, 06:28 PM
crickets

:)

alleycat
03-12-2011, 06:29 PM
crickets
I thought about crickets too, but they're also common to the suburbs.

alleycat
03-12-2011, 06:43 PM
One thing that might also help to identify it as a rural area is the lack of man-made noises such as traffic. You could have one of your characters casually mention this ("I didn't hear any traffic or airplanes noises in the background, not once. He must be well out of the city." or something like that).

Pyekett
03-12-2011, 06:57 PM
I don't know about the Hudson River valley, but the Ohio River valley is rife with cicadas in summer. You tend not to notice them if you live with them, but outsiders find the noise quite notable.

---
Added: They go by cycles, but the cycles of various species differ. You can identify a lot by sound analysis. Looks like they arrange themselves around the eastern US hardwoods, up into Massachusetts, NY, etc. (http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2008-05-18-cicada-BroodXIV_N.htm)

shadowwalker
03-12-2011, 07:05 PM
Not to throw a damper on this, but I'd be wondering how the police could hear this over a phone. One could hear a siren or train whistle, but insects? Granted, cicadas do get very loud, but not that loud...

Pyekett
03-12-2011, 07:08 PM
Granted, cicadas do get very loud, but not that loud...

Ah. Given that I've had an initially quite promising phone encounter interrupted by a technical discussion of the cicada noise in the background, I expect YMMV.

They aren't my favourite insect anymore.

milly
03-12-2011, 07:12 PM
I thought about crickets too, but they're also common to the suburbs.

the suburbs?

see?


I'm just as lost as to what those sound like

:)

Puma
03-12-2011, 07:22 PM
Tree frogs! Tree frogs make noises all summer especially if it's damp. Sometimes I'll go in search of them from their sounds and find them wedged into the edge of the door frame, hanging on a tree, sometimes even hanging on to a large piece of grass. (I'm in Ohio). They make a trill type of sound. Very beautiful and very recognizable. However, they could also be in suburban areas.

There are a number of smaller frogs that inhabit rural areas - the peepers, chorus frogs, wood frogs, and tree frogs.

Another possibility for you would be the larger frogs - bullfrogs make a distinctive sound (green frogs are similar) and they'd both indicate there was water nearby. During the summer in the evening we get a chorus of bullfrogs, green frogs, and tree frogs (and we are in a rural area.) Puma

jclarkdawe
03-12-2011, 08:01 PM
It's always amusing to see the problems I can cause.

As well as tree frogs, in August you'd have bull frogs and cicadas along the lower Hudson. You'd have owls, maybe some coy-dogs and coyotes. If near farms, you might have cows mooing. Close to the river you might get peeples and seagulls, as well as the buoy bells and foghorns. Whip-poor-wills can be heard especially at dawn and dusk. Bats can be heard squeaking if your hearing is good enough.

Just as noticeable would be the lack of car hum, sirens, horns, and people.

Understand that night noises change throughout the night, and people who really know the sounds can tell you approximately what time it is by the sounds.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

LBlankenship
03-12-2011, 08:04 PM
New Englander here, though I spent some years in the Albany/Troy area... crickets, yes. Cicadas, not so much. Loudest bird calls I've heard in the evening have been crows coming back to roost. They get talkative, it seems. Catching up with each other?

shadowwalker
03-12-2011, 08:17 PM
Ah. Given that I've had an initially quite promising phone encounter interrupted by a technical discussion of the cicada noise in the background, I expect YMMV.

I suppose if the phone were extremely sensitive... don't know if the police would be able to hear it though. As a reader from a rural area, I'd be skeptical. Akin to CSI identifying a perp from the reflection on a car door. ;)

jeseymour
03-12-2011, 08:19 PM
I'm glad you're amused, Jim. I'm thinking of going with the tree frogs. I just won't call them peepers. Do cicadas go that far north? We don't have them here, I don't think. I have done some camping in New Jersey, but not in the Hudson River valley of New York. I think I heard cicadas in NJ. Mostly I remember the monster mosquitoes, but that was because the place we were camping was built in a swamp. Literally. But I'm wandering. Tree frogs, not peepers.

Thanks folks!

alleycat
03-12-2011, 08:25 PM
BTW, you can hear bull frogs for a mile or more, so there will be no problem hearing them over a phone call made in a rural area, especially if there's a pond nearby.

Pyekett
03-12-2011, 08:44 PM
It's an academic point now, but--


Do cicadas go that far north?

Yes, depending on the year and brood (http://www.mechaworx.com/cicada/mass_cic_june06.asp) (link is to Massachusetts Cicadas page). They can produce noise to 120 decibels. This, too, is affected by species, brood size, year, and distance of listener, but it can be overwhelming, even in backyards:


Cicada song is illegally loud (http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/bal-te.cicada26may26,0,6853645.story) (Baltimore Sun)
...The insects, which clung to many of the leaves, were so loud they were audible even with the car windows rolled up. Williams checked her earplugs as she climbed from the car. Otherwise, she says, "it's painful after three or four minutes."

... At the Baltimore Zoo (http://www.absolutewrite.com/features/59768,0,3865910.location), employees have been forced to shout in the thickly wooded areas and listen hard for the sound of their walkie-talkies.

...In some areas, the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Administration could cite them for exceeding the 85- to 90-decibel limit set by law, according to spokeswoman Linda Sherman.

Regulators at the city Health Department's environmental health section would crack down, too. Daytime noise limits are set at 58 decibels at the property line in residential areas. Power tools and air-conditioning equipment are not allowed to exceed 70 decibels during the daytime in the city's neighborhoods.

This was in reference to a 17-year brood with 3 different species. Alas, my fated call was in a 17-year cycle breakout as well. My own cycle may not be quite 17 years, but I harbor sufficient resentment that I can cheer the cause of the lowly tree frog instead.

Best wishes on the book.

blacbird
03-13-2011, 11:37 AM
Distant dogs barking, sporadically. Really. For some reason, dog barks carry over enormous distances on quiet nights. I lived in rural areas of the Midwest U.S. during my growing-up years, and this is one of my most vivid nighttime memories.

Another would be distant train sounds, both the whistles and the general rumble of passage, although I suspect this is less common today than when I was a teener.

jeseymour
03-13-2011, 04:31 PM
The train thing is probably something I should include, and I could even mention things like the various insects. Thanks very much everybody!

Pyekett
03-13-2011, 04:43 PM
Does the Hudson River still carry barges? If your call is made from near the river, it's another possibility. nautical008.wav (http://www.grsites.com/archive/sounds/category/6/) is pretty close to my memory of the barge foghorns from nights along the Ohio River.

That, and the white searchlight playing through a bedroom window. Was hard to sleep for the longest time after moving to the city. Too noisy in different ways.

---
Edit: Heh, it's from the "Absolute Sound Effects" site.

jallenecs
03-13-2011, 04:57 PM
I don't know about the Hudson River valley, but the Ohio River valley is rife with cicadas in summer. You tend not to notice them if you live with them, but outsiders find the noise quite notable.

---
Added: They go by cycles, but the cycles of various species differ. You can identify a lot by sound analysis. Looks like they arrange themselves around the eastern US hardwoods, up into Massachusetts, NY, etc. (http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2008-05-18-cicada-BroodXIV_N.htm)

Yeah, but cicadas are very picky about when they sing. they do NOT sing at night, they do not sing when it rains. Heck, they stop singing when a cloud passes over the sun for a moment.

again, I don't live in the Hudson River Valley (I live in the Ohio Valley), but here we have coyotes, foxes and wild dogs, all of which make very distinctive sounds at night. the foxes, in particular, are extremely unnerving, even when you're used to them; when they're in breeding season, it sounds like a woman screaming bloody murder.

Elaine Margarett
03-13-2011, 05:31 PM
I'm in Maryland...well, sometimes I'm in Maryland. The tree frogs here are so loud you have to raise your voice to be heard over them. I've had people comment when I'm talking to them on the phone and I'm outside that they can hear them.

How about a rooster crowing? It's a bit of a fallacy that roosters only crow in the morning. I've heard them at all hours of the day and night.

HTH

Pyekett
03-13-2011, 05:52 PM
Yeah, but cicadas are very picky about when they sing. they do NOT sing at night, they do not sing when it rains. Heck, they stop singing when a cloud passes over the sun for a moment.

*gently

In this, as in so many things, YMMV.

When and where (http://www.angelfire.com/ar/urobbie/tibicen_guide.html) a cicada calls depends on the species. Some are most heard in the middle of the day, some at dusk and into the early evening (which is the time of day specified by the OP). Apparently there is one species in Japan that is more likely to sing when it becomes clouded.

Life is wide and varied, well beyond what I myself imagine.

jclarkdawe
03-13-2011, 06:30 PM
The train thing is probably something I should include, and I could even mention things like the various insects. Thanks very much everybody!

The trains on the Hudson differ depending upon which side you're on. The western side is all freight, mainly container trains, usually running in the 80 - 100 car range. They're hauling and my guess is they're doing about sixty mph. I've never seen a coal train there, although that doesn't mean there aren't any. It's all high speed freight.

East side is passenger trains mainly, with Amtrak and MetroNorth sharing track. Trains are a lot shorter, running maybe ten passenger cars at the most. MetroNorth is a push-pull operation, with diesel-electric power beyond Croton. Top speeds are in the 70 - 80 mph range.

Both lines are very close to the river. But there are differences in the sounds of trains, including the horns, but even more in the duration of the rumble sound. A freight train will take a minute or so to pass, while a passenger train is a lot shorter.

Barges use the Hudson heavily during the summer, and it's rare that you can't see at least one.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

jallenecs
03-14-2011, 04:11 AM
*gently

In this, as in so many things, YMMV.

When and where (http://www.angelfire.com/ar/urobbie/tibicen_guide.html) a cicada calls depends on the species. Some are most heard in the middle of the day, some at dusk and into the early evening (which is the time of day specified by the OP). Apparently there is one species in Japan that is more likely to sing when it becomes clouded.

Life is wide and varied, well beyond what I myself imagine.

Granted. I'm in the Ohio Valley, as I said, and we just endured the seventeen year cicada cycle a couple summers ago. The cicadas were so loud that they drowned out the television, the telephone, you name it. Conversations outside were impossible without shouting, and they would actually wake me up before my alarm would go off in the mornings.

Because they were so ubiquitous, and so loud, we all got to the point of really knowing their patterns. But, as you pointed out, my mileage may vary. So I qualify my statement: what I said holds true for the cicadas that were in the Ohio Valley this last cycle.

backslashbaby
03-14-2011, 04:38 AM
Oh, man, cicadas definitely make noise all night here. Every year.

Some years, though? You can't hear yourself think. It's awful. And it includes the squeals of them being cut off mid sentence by cicada killer wasps :D

Bullfrogs can be very nerve-wracking, too.

I have a yard where I hear cicadas, tree frogs, some other frog (not bullfrog), and a freight train that's only a few houses away :) Oh, and those country dogs, yes! It's really very loud in the summer. You definitely hear it on the phone if I'm outside or the windows are open.

Keyboard Hound
03-14-2011, 08:47 AM
I agree that the peepers could be heard over the phone. We have a pool of water in our backyard and the little buggers get so heavy around it in spring that we often have to round them up and take them to the creek so we can talk when the phone rings. they actually get so loud that you can't hear the other person on the phone. Often people on the line comment how loud they are singing.

WriteMinded
03-16-2011, 06:49 PM
Maybe you could just say frogs. Does the reader need to know what kind of frog, what sex they are, their ages? Tree frogs? peepers? I'm from California and I don't know what those are.

jclarkdawe
03-16-2011, 10:27 PM
Maybe you could just say frogs. Does the reader need to know what kind of frog, what sex they are, their ages? Tree frogs? peepers? I'm from California and I don't know what those are.

Now personally when I read something, I want to know the frog's name, who it's parents are, where it went to school, what it's plans are, and everything else. C'mon, who cares about the story when we can learn all about frogs? Just think about how on SESEME STREET the only character that matters is Kermit. The rest of them are a bunch of hacks.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Stew21
03-16-2011, 10:31 PM
Where I live (way out in the country), coyotes can wake me from a dead-sleep. They're loud enough to be heard over a phone and are rural.
Owls too, but they are more just before dawn than middle of the night like the coyotes.
we have bullfrogs too. They're loud, but not nearly as loud (or menacing) as a ring of coyotes circling a kill.

jaksen
03-17-2011, 04:28 AM
Move it to northern New England and use loons. They are the weirdest-sounding birds, quite a unique sound. Screech owls are good, too, but they're found all over New England. In fact, if you could find an owl which is rare in New England, or found only in a smaller area, you could have your characters record the owl sound and then call in an owl 'expert' to ID the species.

But I'd still go with loons.

hammerklavier
03-17-2011, 06:26 AM
Boom!, Boom!, Boom!

Fed#1 "Was that a driveby shooting?"
Fed#2 "The shots came too slow, sounded like a bolt action rifle, Mosin-Nagant, I'm guessing, by the size of the boom."
Fed#1 "Mosley what?"
Fed#2 "Just some rednecks out hunting hogs at night."
Fed#1 "There aren't any wild hogs upstate."
Fed#2 "Who said wild hogs? -- they're obviously drunk."

cptwentworth
03-17-2011, 06:32 AM
Not to throw a damper on this, but I'd be wondering how the police could hear this over a phone. One could hear a siren or train whistle, but insects? Granted, cicadas do get very loud, but not that loud...

Cicadas in our neighborhood can sure interrupt a phone conversation if you've got the windows open. Wow, those suckers are noisy.

We also have some noisy birds in the morning, but I can't remember if their songs are as late as August.

debirlfan
03-17-2011, 08:14 AM
Unfortunately the wrong time of year for mating coyotes, otherwise that would work - trust me on this, they tried it outside the window one time.

Any thoughts of heading in an entirely different direction? I'm not sure if there are any race tracks in the area where your story is set, but depending on what division cars are running and the weather, the sound can carry quite a distance. (Might provide a fun to track clue for LE - figuring out WHAT race track it was - for example, if there was a break in the action during the call, trying to match that with info from the tracks - and figuring out which way the sound would carry depending on wind, clouds, etc.) (Yeah, as you might guess, there's a track close enough that most times we can hear them.)

Soccer Mom
03-17-2011, 09:02 PM
I was going to say coyotes too. When the pack is moving through the area and are all calling one another they are loud, loud loud.

Arch Stanton
03-17-2011, 09:34 PM
whip-poor-whill

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Whip-poor-will/sounds


Nocturnal with a distinct call. I write about nature often so these specifics are like a first language to me.

Jaksen mentioned loons, which are also an excellent choice.

GeorgeK
03-18-2011, 01:17 AM
Granted, cicadas do get very loud, but not that loud...

They do when they emerge in the tens of millions, but then I don't believe that the 17 year Cicadas are in New York.

Here there are many species of frog that are active until the nights are consistently below about 40F degrees. Peepers are not a scientific term, and so the actual species may vary from place to place.

backslashbaby
03-18-2011, 02:48 AM
They do when they emerge in the tens of millions, but then I don't believe that the 17 year Cicadas are in New York.

Here there are many species of frog that are active until the nights are consistently below about 40F degrees. Peepers are not a scientific term, and so the actual species may vary from place to place.

I notice the frogs much more in the summer than the spring, so ours must like the hot weather very locally. I'm not sure I've ever heard 'peepers'.

lexxi
03-18-2011, 04:39 AM
Similar location, late June, approximately 2 AM, narrator has been taken outside but can't see where she is. Not a nature expert. I wrote:


Bugs hummed in the trees, crickets or cicadas or whatever they were. Further off somewhere a bird hooted. And familiar felons bickered sotto voce as they rolled me god knew where.

Is that plausible for that time of night?

GeorgeK
03-18-2011, 07:59 AM
Is it that she can't recognize her surroundings or is blindfolded? When you get out into the deep rural areas, away from light pollution, the moon and stars seem to provide much more light. Here it is not unusual to be able to read a book on the porch while listening to the harmonics of the bugs and frogs, but then I also have better than average night vision. You can also hear the flying squirrels, but a city person would possibly freak, thinking they were rats.

lexxi
03-18-2011, 05:57 PM
Is it that she can't recognize her surroundings or is blindfolded?

She's inside a box. :D So the equivalent of blindfolded.

I don't think I would recognize the sound of rats either. So if I heard flying squirrels, I'd probably guess birds.

My question is, what sounds would be heard at 2 AM in the Adirondacks in early summer.