Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Western Kentucky: Sebree

May 23, 5:12 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:34 a.m.

Download the Recording

As the train recedes into the distance, a house finch comes to life. How typical of house finch songs, as some are loud, some soft, some long, some short; he stutters at times, bubbling away with a variety of brief notes, sounding more spirited at some times than others.

And he sings just two different songs throughout, though many of them are partial and therefore not so easily recognized. Listen to those first five songs (A) and you'll hear the same basic rhythm, but the song at 0:41 (B) is different, beginning with more clear, bold tonal notes. The songs during the first minute are A A A A A B A A B, though you must wait until 1:35 to get the full version of song B.


Train. Chipping sparrow in dawn chorus, American robin, Carolina wren, crowing roosters, chimney swift, mourning dove, all manner of vehicles passing--including a motorcycle, calls of common grackle flying by, European starling. Sebree is coming to life.


Photo by Robert Royse