Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Climbing the Rockies: Juniper habitat, St. Elmo, Colorado

June 15, 8:54 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:39 a.m.

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What a surprise! These pinyon jays dominate the mid-morning soundscape. How many jays are here I can only guess, as they leap-frog past me, the flock continuously moving. From a distance I hear the frantic calling by the young jays, registering an occasional swallowing sound as (as if?) a young bird is fed by an adult (e.g., 0:11, 0:15).

For the first three and a half minutes the young birds call, with adult laughing-like calls in the background. Then, an adult lands near me, overseeing the entire operation, me included, calling loudly at 4:02, 4:29, yah-ah-ah . . . yah-ah-ah . . . and then five more times after a full minute's pause. At 5:10, he calls as he departs, then calls in the distance as he flies off, following the horde.


Western wood-pewee, a woodpecker tapping nearby.


Photo by Robert Royse