Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky: Redbird Wildlife Management Area

May 29, 8:01 a.m.

Sunrise at 6:17 a.m.

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Five male cowbirds on a utility wire, about 15 yards away. Several are singing, and the variety of songs is considerable.

At 0:48 a single Flight Whistle is given, and after that a few of the cowbirds depart, eventually leaving only one male. He gives another Flight Whistle (at 2:01), and then he, too, drops down to the ground below the utility wires.

I study the sonagrams some more, finding that the first song (at 0:02) also occurs four other times, at 0:27, 0:58, 1:13, and 1:31. Because these birds learn songs of the local dialect, I cannot know if this is the same bird throughout or if two or more birds are singing the same song.


Pileated woodpecker, northern parula, northern cardinal, yellow-throated warbler, white-eyed vireo, Carolina wren, indigo bunting, American crow, yellow-throated vireo


Photo by Brian L. Sullivan