Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma

About the book

Join birdsong expert Donald Kroodsma on a ten-week, ten-state bicycle journey as he travels with his son from the Atlantic to the Pacific, lingering and listening to our continent sing as no one has before.

On remote country roads over terrain vast and spectacular, from dawn to dusk and sometimes through the night, you will gain a deep appreciation for the natural symphony of birdsong many of us take for granted. Come along and marvel at how expressive these creatures are as Kroodsma leads you west across nearly five thousand miles--at a leisurely pace that enables a deep listen.

Listening to a Continent Sing is also a guided tour through the history of a young nation and the geology of an ancient landscape, and an invitation to set aside the bustle of everyday life to follow one's dreams. It is a celebration of flowers and trees, rocks and rivers, mountains and prairies, clouds and sky, headwinds and calm, and of local voices and the people you will meet along the way. It is also the story of a father and son deepening their bond as they travel the slow road together from coast to coast.

Beautifully illustrated throughout with drawings of birds and scenes and featuring QR codes that link to audio birdsong, this poignant and insightful book takes you on a travel adventure unlike any other--accompanied on every leg of your journey by birdsong.

For a closer look, check out the video trailer for the book.

To see what others are saying about the book, see The Reviews.

About the author

Donald Kroodsma is professor emeritus of ornithology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a world-renowned authority on birdsong. He is the author of The Singing Life of Birds, The Backyard Birdsong Guides, and Birdsong by the Seasons. He lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts. For more information, see

Listen with your eyes

People often assume that I have remarkable ears, but it is really 40 years of listening with my eyes that gives me the advantage. Yes, listening with my eyes, as it is seeing the musical scores (i.e., sonagrams) of birdsong while I listen that allows me to hear all the better. I use the Raven program from Cornell, and Raven-lite is free from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. You can download all of the sounds on this website and import them directly into Raven, where you can watch and listen, slowing songs down so that your ears and eyes pick out all the details that the birds themselves can hear. Using both your eyes and your ears, you will be astonished at all you begin to hear.

Enjoy the sounds!

The recordings are for your personal use (not commercial, etc.). Please download and enjoy; study them in Raven-lite and give your ears a boost.


I owe an enormous thank you to John Van de Graaff for offering so many of his bird photos to grace this website. Also especially generous were Brian L. Sullivan of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Wil Hershberger, and Robert Royse. Web design was by Ethan Hazard-Watkins; web development by David Kroodsma, my extraordinary son and bicycling companion on our coast-to-coast listening adventure, and author of The Bicycle Diaries: My 21,000 Mile Ride for the Climate.

About some missing QR codes

In the LISTEN BY NUMBER section, the astute observer may notice that some numbers in the sequence from VA-1 to OR-381 are missing. That is by design (not necessarily the best, admittedly!). In the book, I sometimes wanted to encourage listening to the same sound in two different places, e.g., the Pacific wren in Montana (#293) and again in Oregon (#300). So in the book two different numbers are provided, but both numbers take you to OR-293 on this website. Another reason for a missing number is that I later chose to incorporate two or more numbers on the same web page, so that, for example, #166 and #167 take you to the webpage for MO-165.