Monday, January 22, 2018

Listen to the Sounds of Monarch Butterfly Wings in the Cerro Pelon Reserve in Mexico!

I just learned of a project that allows you to hear sounds in various locations around the world. Called Locus Sonus, it is a French-based research network that focuses on the relationship between sound and space. It had its beginnings in 2005, and works in cooperation with several research labs throughout the world, including the School of the Art Institute (SAIC) in Chicago.

While I don't entirely understand their goal or purpose, what I do know is that they set up listening devices using open mics in places in order to capture their soundscape. Mainly an artistic endeavor, it relies on technology and science to operate.

Why am I interested in this? Because one of the locations where a microphone is located is in the Cerro Pelon monarch butterfly sanctuary in Michoacán, Mexico. By tuning in to this particular channel, you can hear the sounds of monarch butterfly wings, birds chirping, and wind through the trees in the location where the monarch butterflies were first found in their wintering location in 1975.

Click on graphic to enlarge soundmap. To go to the site, click here.

The listening map is located here and you can find the Cerro Pelon mic in Mexico and click on it. You'll want to have your sound turned up to its maximum level in order to hear the low level sounds.

The listening equipment is solar powered, so there will be times when no sound is being transmitted (at night, for example, which will be indicated by the darkened areas on the map) and the volume may vary. It's very new, so there will be times when equipment adjustments are being made. During those times, the microphone may not appear on the map. Check back later. It will be worth it!

Taking it all in at Sierra Chincua sanctuary, March 3rd, 2017.

Having been in a couple of the monarch sanctuaries myself, I can confirm that yes, it's very subtle, very quiet, which is the beauty in it, especially when you're in its midst. Just as in the actual location, you will not hear loud anything streaming through the microphone and you might be underwhelmed by what you hear. But make no mistake, you can hear those delicate wing flutters.

When the sun is out, the monarchs can be seen fluttering about, like
these, in El Rosario sanctuary on March 2nd, 2017.

Because the monarchs are much more active on sunny days, this will affect what you hear when listening in. If it's cloudy or rainy, you won't hear the sounds of butterfly wings, because the monarchs will be clustered together on the trees with very few, if any, flying around. So if you don't hear them at first try, go back and give it a listen on different days at different times. I got lucky and heard the wing flutters the first time I tuned in. 🦋



Lisa Greenbow said...

Wow, must be a lot of them to get the sound.

Kylee Baumle said...

Lisa ~ Yes, there needs to be a number of them flying around in order to hear their wings flutter. Once you hear it, it's just as you might imagine it would sound. The sheer number of monarchs in one location like that is unfathomable until you see it for yourself. I wish that everyone could experience it!

RobinL said...

What an interesting thing! Yes, I’ll tune in till I hear butterflies. Hear butterflies? Doesn’t seem possible!

RobinL said...

Well, I’m not having any luck with any of the sites. Any tips?

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