Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge, Walden, Colorado

June 9, 6:31 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:33 a.m.

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A Wilson's snipe winnows overhead. I stand ankle deep in water, following this speck in the sky as he circles around me, twisting me in knots as I try to keep the parabolic reflector aimed at him. Sometimes he's near, sometimes far.

During each minute he winnows five times times, wuwuwuwuwuwuwuwuwuwuwuwu . . . wuwuwuwuwuwuwuwuwuwuwuwu . . . completing a five-second winnow roughly every 12 seconds. Almost half the time he's in a dive and a little more than half the time he's recovering, preparing for the next.


Common raven (0:38), red-winged blackbird (male songs, many female calls), sora (e.g., so-RAH at 0:25, whiney at 0:56), Canada goose, horned lark, western meadowlarks, brown-headed cowbird.


Photo by John Van de Graaff