Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


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

June 15, 6:25 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:39 a.m.

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Twenty-four songs over four minutes, a song every ten seconds, quick, THREE BEERS! I am not sure why the heart warms when I hear this song, but I think it's because I first heard it on a field trip to northern Michigan way back in 1968 when I was taking my two ornithology courses from Olin Sewall Pettingill Jr. The song was unmistakable then, as it is now, the mnemonic unforgettable: quick, THREE BEERS!. Other mnemonics, such as hip, THREE CHEERS!, don't quite measure up.

How odd, I think, that these close relatives of the wood-pewees have no special dawn song.


House wren, western tanager, horned lark.


Photo by Brian L. Sullivan