Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Cambridge, Idaho

May 28, 6:44 a.m.

Sunrise at 6:05 a.m.

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A Lewis's woodpecker drumming and calling. He drums eight times on the same substrate, then calls weakly; last are two drums in which the resonance is at a far higher frequency.

I measure the rate in the first drum, 17 per second, 17 for the second, 16 for the third. That's rather slow for woodpeckers, almost down to where one expects to hear a downy woodpecker drumming.

Here in Idaho, I can almost imagine standing here and listening to this woodpecker with Meriwether Lewis himself, co-leader of the Corps of Discovery, for whom this bird is named.


Spotted towhee, western meadowlark, California quail, cattle, distant roar of the river.


Photo by Brian L. Sullivan