The Mating Song

Elk bugling in Elk County, Pennsylvania (photo by Paul Staniszewski)
Elk bugling in Elk County, Pennsylvania (photo by Paul Staniszewski)

At this time of year an eerie sound echoes through the north woods of Pennsylvania, the mating song of the elk.

In September and October Pennsylvania’s elk herd (Cervus canadensis) has an annual period of sexual activity called the rut. The bulls gather harems, pursue the females, spar with other males, and “sing” a bugling love song.

Based on the size and posture of a bugling elk you’d think his voice is low — but not at all.  The bugle call is bell-like and echoing even when the animal is close by.  His song carries far in the woods and fields.

Listen and watch the video below to hear the elks’ eerie mating song.


Visit the Elk Country Visitor Center to hear and see elk for yourself.

If you can’t be there in person, watch the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s live stream.  Even when elk aren’t on camera the audio is worth it.  Yesterday morning I heard purple finches in the background.


Thank you to Paul Staniszewski for reminding me that the elk are calling now. See more of Paul’s elk photos here.

(photo by Paul Staniszewski; video by Lively Legz/Living4theoutdoors on YouTube)

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