Anyone spending time in the Boot Heel of New Mexico or in any of the Sky Islands and especially the San Simon Valley quickly become accustomed to the acoustic landscape that characterizes the area.  With only 3 paved roads in the 330 square miles of the valley south of I-10 there is not much traffic, nor is their any heavy industry, and with a population density of less than 1 person/square mile not many people.  As a result there is also not any noise and the natural sounds of landscape become apparent.  Only with the rise of modern cities have humans begun to lose access to the natural sounds of the landscape.  With high population densities and the associated human activity the acoustic landscape of cities and urbanized areas are very different from what is experienced in extremely rural settings.

Once attuned to the natural acoustic landscape it is not uncommon to be awakened at night by the sound of a late night truck a mile and a half away on Highway 80.  Low frequency sound seems to carry well here and on more than one occasion upon hearing the sound of a vehicle coming up the gravel drive and looking up saw nothing, only to search around and see a dust plume from a neighbor's vehicle 2 miles away.

Animal noises make up much of the acoustic landscape here especially birds.  Morning doves and quail can be heard frequently as well as the lowing of cattle half a mile away.  In the winter cranes become a major sound feature.  Migrating Sandhill cranes invade the area and are frequently heard before they are seen.  The sounds of cranes well over a mile away are often heard on winter mornings.

Another major aspect of the acoustic landscape is wind.  A light breeze moving the grasses is apparent to anyone out on the landscape and the flag at the south end of the Painted Pony Resort is easily heard anywhere on the property.

The idea of landscape acoustic analysis is fairly new but some have been recording natural acoustic landscapes and sharing their results.  Sounds like New Mexico are the results of one persons documentation of the acoustic landscape around New Mexico.  Recording sounds from a variety of different natural environments across the state the resulting videos (still images combined with sound) make for a different way to experience New Mexico.


  1. You talked about doing this blog and this is very interesting as the longer one lives here the more we take for granted about the quiet and sounds from the Boot heel! I take my phone out doors when talking to my mom this time of year so she can hear birds.

  2. Good idea sharing the sounds of the Boot Heel. There are many ways to enjoy the landscape and the visuals are just one aspect.

  3. We both saw and heard the Sandhill cranes the other day. A very distinguised or distinct sound. Can't spell it but I can imitate it! By the way, smart birds - - - they were headed SOUTH!
    We hear a bird flying overhead with the "wuh wuh wuh" of the wings.

  4. I have heard cranes on several mornings but have failed to find their location. I suspect the cattle tank near the corner of Highway 80 and Highway 9, but not sure.