Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Levee Road, Mississippi River flood plain, Cora, Illinois

May 30, 6:06 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:39)

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Male and female blackbirds go about their business, singing and calling.

The male sings only three times in this selection, in the sequence A (at 0:04), B and B (at 1:05 and 1:46), the A song highly buzzy, the two B songs strongly pulsating.

Females call intensely, especially after the male's song; listen to the two females who call during and just after the first song, for example, and one female calls intensely after the last song, at 1:47.

And he calls as well, using a variety throughout. From 0:30 to 0:40, for example, you can hear four different calls given by the same male, all calls that are part of the local dialect here along the Mississippi River.


Carolina wren, dickcissel, orchard oriole, great crested flycatcher, eastern meadowlark, and barges along the Mississippi River idling as they wait for their load of coal


Photo by John Van de Graaff