Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Shortgrass Prairie of eastern Colorado, Pawnee National Grassland, Briggsdale, Colorado

May 30, 6:58 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:26 a.m.

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Five minutes of flight songs from a McCown's longspur. He perches on the ground, perhaps foraging a little, then launches into the wind, rising steeply to about 50 feet before he begins his tinkling song as he glides back to earth.

Sometimes it's a single song, but often he glides through his first song, then rises again into the wind and sings again, repeating the cycle several times before floating back to the prairie below. Listen for his wings as he powers upward, and hear how most of his songs begin in the same way, the first second and a half of each song having a distinctive, repeating rhythm.


Western meadowlark, lark bunting.


Photo by Wil Hershberger