The Sounds of Fall

Blog Category
Discover Nature Notes
Published Display Date
Oct 17, 2021
autumn red leaves backlit by the sun
Autumn leaves at Mark Twain Lake.
David Stonner
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Fall is a sensory delight. The landscape is awash with the colors of changing leaves. Sunsets are coppery. Fall smells are evocative: cider, smoke from burning leaves, and the singed pumpkin of a jack-o-lantern plug.

The sounds of fall are distinct too. Crickets call. As E.B. White wrote in “Charlotte’s Web”: “They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad monotonous song.”

Crisp, dead leaves cover the ground and swish and crunch underfoot. Squirrels chatter and raise a leafy rattle as they scurry for acorns to bury and find again as fall fades into winter.

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Deer look for mates, and they move restlessly. Bucks vying for dominance fight, and their antlers clack and scrape. A lone deer suddenly surprised is likely to snort. Wild elk chuckle, bugle and sound off in the Ozark hills. You can take a driving tour to hear and see them at Peck Ranch and Current River Conservation Areas.

Migrating geese cut across autumn skies in wide V’s, belting out calls of reassurance to one another. The chorus of honks fills the chilly air, first softly, then stridently, and then fades away. A new fleet takes up the calm then it passes too, and the relay continues, sometimes for hours.

Audio file
Discover Nature Notes Radio: Fall Sounds
MDC, Learfield
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You can find and share more Missouri fall colors with our MO Fall Colors app. Browse up-to-minute fall color scenes from places nearby and around the state. Use the GPS info to navigate to them.

Places to Go this Fall

Where can you listen to the sounds of nature in Missouri? Here are a few conservation and natural areas we suggest:

  • Hyer Woods, near Rolla: look and listen for birds, deer, wild turkey, and squirrels on the hiking trail
  • Caney Mountain Conservation Area in Ozark County: look for the eastern cottontail, turkey and birds on the hiking, biking, horseback trails
  • Davisdale Conservation Area near Columbia: look for quail, dove, and turkey and other birds from the trails or around individual campsites
  • Granny’s Acres Conservation Area in Benton County: great for bird watching
  • Pacific Palisades Conservation Area near Pacific: great for fishing

Check fall color updates around the state.

How You Can Best Enjoy the Changing Colors

  • For spectacular vistas, choose routes along rivers with views of forested bluffs, and along ridges with sweeping scenes of forested landscapes.
  • On a smaller scale, drive on back roads, hike, or take a float trip under a colorful forest canopy on a clear, blue-sky day. It’s like having acres of shining stained glass above.
  • Even treeless areas, such as prairies and roadsides, display beautiful shades of gold, purple, olive, and auburn with autumn wildflowers, shrubs, and curing, rustling grasses
  • If you can’t get out of town, enjoy places with mature trees, such as older neighborhoods, parks, and even cemeteries.

Find out how you can take in Missouri’s fall colors in each of its regions by checking our Field Guide.

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