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Mystery Musicians in a Ponderosa Forest

It's funny how you begin to hear something when somebody else mentions it. My fellow camper pointed out a funny clicking sound in a mostly ponderosa forest. It was pretty subtle. I spent the next half hour trying to figure out its cause, coming up with some pretty absurd explanations.

But the sound was concentrated near one bushlike tree that was close to eye level. Here was the culprit (transferred to the animals album of my Picasa album):

It's an adult cicada, about an inch long. You gotta love those transparent, veined wings. You expect to hear a loud screech from cicadas, rather than subtle clicking. Wikipedia has an interesting article on them. 

Did you know that cicadas are "timpanists" rather than "violinists" such as grasshoppers or crickets? They have thin membranes on their abdomens that buckle to produce their normal screeching sound.

So what's wrong with our local timpanists; why don't they make the usual screech? Cicadas are loudest in the heat of the summer day, so maybe it is too cold here at 8250 feet.


Unknown said…
I love the variety of the songs of nature. A veritable symphony :)

Different types of cicadas make different sounds and even the same types make different sounds at different times. Funny how we peg them as acting one way then are surprised when we see a different side of them.
Maria, it is easy to overlook sounds since we live in an age dominated by the TV camera.
Anonymous said…
Master Po: What do you hear?
Caine: I hear the grasshopper.