Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Hodgenville County Park, Kentucky

May 21, 5:30 a.m.

Sunrise at 6:28 a.m.

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Throughout the night he sang, a bachelor announcing he was available, and at dawn I finally got out of the tent and stood next to him, this brief selection of nearly 15 minutes telling of other birds in his life.

I begin listening . . . hearing imitations . . .

0:14, blue jay

0:19, northern flicker klee-yer! call

0:23, red-bellied woodpecker call

0:25-0:32, northern flicker klee-yer! call again

0:35, blue jay (0:39-0:42, probably also blue jay)

0:46-0:51, purple martin

0:53-0:48, Carolina wren

0:59-1:05, tufted titmouse

Oh, all that in the first minute--he is a fine mimic. I'll pick out a few of my favorites in the following minutes:

1:26, blue jay and hairy/downy woodpecker call alternated

1:40, Carolina chickadee song

2:16, eastern bluebird

3:22, blue jay

5:18, purple martin

5:48, eastern bluebird again

7:38, northern flicker wik-wik-wik song (again at 9:08, and 11:58)

7:52, tufted titmouse again

11:52, Carolina wren (again)

What a challenge to try to identify all that he has pilfered and translated into mockingbirdese!


At this time of the morning, all of Hodgenville's American robins are singing by streetlights. And all of Hodgenville is stirring, with traffic humming throughout the city.


Photo by John Van de Graaff