Three Sandhill Cranes @ Brookville Lake, IN

Sandhill Cranes Near Cincinnati?

The World? Moonlit

drops shaken

From the crane’s bill.


- Eihei Dogen 

13th Century



In Japan the crane is a revered and mystical bird that symbolizes good fortune because of its fabled thousand-year lifespan. In actuality cranes have a life span of 20 to 30 years in the wild, but this doesn’t make these large, elegant birds any less magical. Watching a swoop of sandhills arriving at the roost at dusk is a truly unique experience.


Sandhill cranes are thought to be one of the oldest living avian species on earth. They are found throughout most of North America. Their range is south to Mexico and Cuba, and as far west as Siberia. Migratory subspecies of sandhill cranes breed in northern continental U.S., Canada, Alaska, and Siberia.These large birds, which can stand four feet tall with a wingspan of five or six feet, are on the increase in Ohio. Small numbers of breeding sandhill cranes have been present since 1985, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources reports that the population has grown over the last few years as new habitat is being developed.


Sandhills migrate through each fall on their way to winter in the South. Then in spring they return north to start nesting preparations. Their nests are built on the ground in a mound of vegetation. Two young are usually born each year and stay with their parents for about ten months. When they reach sexual maturity at about 3 to 5 years old, they find mates of their own.


Sandhill cranes are monogamous and mating pairs frequently perform dancing displays during courtship. Cranes leap and frolic while circling each other and calling back and forth. They often do these dances when courting but can occasionally be seen performing with their partner year round. Cranes sleep at night standing on the ground. They generally prefer to stand in shallow water, often on one leg, with their heads and necks tucked on their shoulder or under one of their wings. In the breeding season they sleep at or near to their nests so they can guard their eggs or chicks.


Sandhills seem to be the most vocal when they return to the roost at dusk. The call of the sandhill crane is a loud, low-pitched trumpeting. This call is produced by the crane’s unique anatomy. Since their windpipe is much longer than that of most birds and it loops down into the bird’s sternum, they are capable of producing a distinctive array of sounds.


Cranes are so vocal because they have a highly developed communication system that functions to keep the family together, to signal danger, and to reinforce the pair-bond. Their unison call is a duet done by a breeding pair in which the male has a one-note call, and the female a two-note call.


Sandhills may be seen and heard in our area  during the fall, winter, and early spring, but the best time is during their fall migration from early October through late December. Here are three locations to view Sandhills:


Brookville Lake mudflats on north Treaty Line Road, west of Liberty, Indiana south of SR 44, directly west across the lake from Whitewater State Park. This is a 1 1/2 hour drive from


Whitewater Memorial State Park , 1418 S State Rd 101, Liberty, IN 47353 - from the Silver

Creek Boat Ramp or the State Park Cabins looking west. This is about an hour drive from


Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area , 5822 Fish and Wildlife Ln, Medaryville, IN 47957. This is the best option for viewing thousands of Cranes during their fall migration although it is a 3½ hour drive from Cincinnati.


My recent soundscape composition Sandhill Cranes in the Dusk, is based on a field recording made at the Brookville Lake mudflats this past October. Try listening at a moderate volume over good speakers or headphones.

* This article first appeared in EarthCare a monthly newsletter publication of Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church, edited by John Tallmadge and Julia Malkin.


East Fork SP Dawn Chorus 6.11.20 5:33AM

Field Recording

Here's a recent field recording of the dawn chorus at East Fork State Park in Ohio. It was a moderately windymorning, but the wind died down before sunrise. The frogs were very vocal before sunrise, becoming more quiet with the sunrise.

* Please listen via headphones or conventional speakers (computer speakers will not handle some of the content or allow it to be audible)

Dawn Chorus Sharon Woods 5.27.20

Field Recording

This is a field recording of the dawn chorus at Sharon Woods Park in Sharonville, OH. USA. It begins at approximately 5:50 AM. There was a light rain falling for most of the recording. This is a suburban park surrounded by interstates and railroads. This recording was captured on the Gorge Trail.

Dawn Chorus, Warder Preserve 5.2.2020 - 6:07 AM

Field Recording

Listen to the dawn chorus at Warder Preserve in Springfield Township near Cincinnati, Ohio. Sunrise was 6:37 AM. The birds began singing well before I began this recording. Notice that when the sun rises and the anthrophony (human sound becomes lowder, the bird sounds and other biophony become less dense. This is best listen to on a good set of headphones.


Gaspirilla Sound

Hydrophone Recording


This is a hydrophone field recording from a relatively "quiet" area on Gasparilla Sound near Boca Grande. Florida. Two mics were dropped in about 7' of water about 150 yards from the main channel. 

The powerboat prop noises were at a minimum. The water noises from the wave action on the boat I was recording from are in the foreground. Also, notice the "clicks", perhaps fish? Something was bumping the mics, perhaps also fish? Boats, boats and more boats can be heard in the background.

Here's a link

Hydrophone Field Recordings

The unusual underwater sounds from the mangroves


Here are some recent field recordings from coastal mangroves near Englewood, Florida. I recorded Oyster Creek, Lemon Bay, and Lemon Creek.

In the first recording the hydrophones were about 6' apart in 12" of water. Oyster Creek is a tidal estuary and the tide was rising. At about the 5' mark, listen as a school of minnows repeatedly bumps against the hydrophone phone lead.

Give them a listen here:


My new "Honey Bee" piece will be included in this exhibit.  

Redbud at Collector's Art Group 

Redbud, a new exhibition of art and music by Rich Bitting opens November 16 at Collector’s Art Group, 225 E. 6th Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. The exhibition features 16 mixed media works accompanied by 16 digital audio works.

In addition to the visual work, the exhibition Redbud will feature Redbud Revisited a new audio release that accompanies 13 new visual works. Redbud Revisited is available as an audio CD, a limited edition audio CD, and a digital download. 

A previously released audio CD, Redbud

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Fernald Nature Preserve Sound Walk 

Fernald Sound Walk

Join me Friday, November 17th from 5:30 to 7 PM as I lead a sound walk at the Fernald Nature Preserve. The walk begins with a brief 15 minute introduction to listening skills. We'll then walk silently, at an easy pace for about an hour. We will pause to gather to re-orient our listening and adjust to different ways of listening. We'll share our experiences at the end of the walk. This deep listening activity will open your ears!

My New Photo Work @ Essex Studios Art Walk 

Essex Art Walk

I'll be showing some new photos, November 3rd and 4th in Studio 258 at the Essex. Josh Parrott has kindly given me some wall space to hang 15 new photographs. Josh will be showing some of his recent paintings, and Jennifer Parrott will have some of her photography as well. It is rumored that there will be some live music, so why not stop by and make a night of it?

MUSLAB 2017 

My electronic music work, Beech Forest in the Moonlight, has been accepted as part of the International Festival of Electroacoustic Music - MUSLAB 2017. It will be presented November 13th, as part of the Third Transmission at ESPACIO SONORO Autonomous Metropolitan University Xochimilco in Mexico City. I am humbled and delighted to be included in this event.

Rikki Santer will read "To Reconsider Melody" in Columbus Performance 

To Reconsider Melody

By Rikki Santer

for Richard Bitting after “Canticle of the Redbud”



Your head inside a temple bell tiny temple

bells inside your head.  You shapeshift into

a zen galaxy of shimmering silence, then whirl

tarantella atop a sunlit spider strand swaying


with rhymes of dew drops from your garden’s

redbud tree.  Listen.  The tender fizz of heart 

leaves, the wee clicks of kinship roots deep

in the belly of your backyard ravine.  This


soundscape sonogram reminds us.  Pause

and harvest…

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Canticle of the Redbud included in Sight of Music 

Friday, September 29th,  6 - 8 PM

 Columbus Cultural Arts Center

Columbus, OH

Canticle of the Redbud, 20" x 30", mixed media on canvas, Rich Bitting

An exhibition exploring how we interact with music 

as a central aspect of our humanity

The Columbus Cultural Arts Center (CAC) will host a large juried exhibition of contemporary works by Ohio artists, in a challenge set forth by guest curator, local poet and writer, Steve Abbott. Framed by a nod to synesthesia, SIGHT OF MUSIC”will present visual…

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Early Autumn - Evening Rain included in IFAR Musique Concrète field recording compilation 


Early Autumn Rain, Unity, Ohio is part of a compilation of field recordings by IFAR in BandCamp.

Early Autumn Rain, Unity, Ohio is a field recording of a rainy night at a 
cabin in Unity Woods, Unity Ohio, near the Edge of Appalachia Preserve in 
Adams County, Ohio recorded in October of 2003. The foreground staccato 
of rain with background ostinato of insects completes this calming