Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma

Northern flicker KS-183

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, Stafford, Kansas

June 4, 6:43 a.m.

Sunrise at 6:11 a.m.

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Three northern flickers joust in the dead snags at the Quivira refuge. One in the background initially sings the wik-wik-wik song, overlapped by loud flicka-flicka-flicka calls of a second bird. Ten seconds later half-hearted flicka-flicka calls are followed by a drum, lasting a second and a half, at the rate of about 22 raps per second.

I listen well beyond this half minute: As birds in the background carry on, especially a mourning dove, American robin, and a great crested flycatcher, these three flickers fly about the tree, occasionally singing, calling, drumming, and chasing each other.


Mourning dove, house wren, eastern kingbird, red-bellied woodpecker, northern bobwhite


Photo by John Van de Graaff


Photo by John Van de Graaff