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Steve Guettermann
The Air Was Still Alive with Sound, As it Should Be

Too often I go to pristine natural areas that are too quiet and almost devoid of wildlife. The Great Plains are not meant to be quiet; nor are they meant to have the quiet interrupted only by machines or cattle. They are meant to pulse with natural sound: the buzz of insects, the song of birds, the howls of coyotes and wolves, the bellows and battles of bison and elk bulls, gopher and prairie dog talk, the rustle of wind and crack of thunder.

The sound I've noticed disappearing the most from my early wanderings among the plains is the absence of songbirds. I remember sitting on grassy hilltops surrounded by bird song, but it had been years since I had that experience until I went to the American Prairie Reserve.

There were not only songbirds calling, but shorebirds and ducks. The air was alive with their sound, as it should be. The absolute silence at 3 a.m. was astounding, considering the noise with which we usually live with. But at 4:30 a.m., when the birds started their day, they told me that Life was still alive and well on the American Prairie Reserve. Thanks for the wake up call!