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Summer Sounds: Loon

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: We've been giving you a chance to share stories about the things you hear at this time of year. We call this feature Summer Sounds.


KATHLEEN HERRING: I'm Kathleen Herring and I live on a small lake outside of Soldotna, Alaska. Our notice that summer has officially started comes in late April when we hear the first migrating loon.


HERRING: Suddenly and without warning, the early mornings are filled with the sound of noisy flyovers as the big birds scout choice nesting spots.


HERRING: Within a day or two of their rowdy return, all the lake ice melts away and the crystal blue waters appear.


HERRING: I don't know how they know, but we have long suspected they hang out in the open water of the Kina River about a half mile north of us.


HERRING: Some say the sound of the loon is eerie or even lonely, but each year, their cries are joyful and absolute proof that winter is really behind us and summer is here again.


MELISSA BLOCK, host: That summer sound from listener, Kathleen Herring, in Soldotna, Alaska.

Loons were also on the mind of listener, Chris Harrison, of Raleigh, North Carolina. He spent his childhood summers in Maine with his grandparents.

SIEGEL: He writes this about sitting out at a lake. If you were really lucky, the silence would be broken by the loons calling out to each other. Sometimes, you could just sit out there for an hour listening to the loons.

BLOCK: And from Cumberland, Maine, listener Jacqueline Moss tells us this. There is nothing like the sound of a loon calling. It is easily the most beautiful, eerie and haunting sound I have ever heard and incredibly soothing. To me, that sound of the loon is and always will be my favorite summer sound.

SIEGEL: Summers for Sabra Morton of Lexington, Massachusetts were spent on a small lake in New Hampshire's White Mountains and she wrote to us how she learned the definition of a small lake. She says an old timer told her that small means it's a two loon lake, always has been, always will be.

BLOCK: One final thought on loons from listener A.D. Long, of Madison, Wisconsin, who writes this. Although experts distinguish four types of calls, the one that is most evocative to me of the north country is the lonely, three note wail: where are you?


SIEGEL: And where are we? Deluged by your wonderful suggestions for Summer Sounds. Our virtual mailbag runneth over. Thanks to all of you who sent in your summer sounds and thanks to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for their recordings of loons.


BLOCK: ALL THINGS CONSIDERED continues in a moment.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.