On a crisp winter night, moonlight glints off crusty snow and casts shadows of bare trees on snowdrifts. Stars sparkle like sugar crystals sprinkled across the sky. All is still. And then … Hoot hoot hoot! Hooot! Hooot! Somewhere far away, a female great horned owl is calling. All year long, animals create a symphony of sound in fields and woods and on lakes and ponds across Minnesota. In winter, owls hoot, squirrels chatter, and woodpeckers tap. In spring, frogs and toads croak and songbirds sing. In summer, cicadas buzz, loons wail, and locusts hum. In fall, geese honk, ducks quack, and deer snort.

What are the animals saying? What does their chatter mean? Some are saying, "I'm here! Come see me!" Others mean, "Stay away!" Some might be saying, "I'm scared!" or "I'm strong!" All are messages to other creatures—maybe to you.

Let's look at some Minnesota sound makers to see how and why they add their notes to nature's orchestra.

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