Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Harvey County East Park, Kansas

June 4, 5:40 a.m.

Sunrise at 6:11 a.m.

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A scissor-tailed flycatcher sings from just above me as I huddle beneath a shelter beside him. His song is of the same sputtering nature as the other "kingbirds" (genus Tyrannus) here, but the details differ. The best I can do at a mnemonic is something like pik pik pik pik pik pi-DIK PI-DIK PI-DAH PI-DAH-LEEK, though that clearly does him no justice.

His song is perhaps most similar to that of the western kingbird, but note how the scissor-tail ends his flourish with an emphasized note, whereas the western kingbird deemphasizes the final notes.


American robins, a faint grasshopper sparrow, and the hum of a refrigerating unit nearby.


Photo by John Van de Graaff