Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Appalachia: Ashcamp, Kentucky

May 15, 8:25 a.m.

Sunrise at 6:20 a.m.

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Outside Ashcamp, Kentucky, I stop beside the road in disbelief, as I encounter an entire hillside of fighting cocks. Each bird is tethered to a small coop, the tethers just short enough to prevent the birds from reaching each other. In plain sight, fighting cocks, but that's illegal, isn't it?

Fearing somewhat for my life and not wanting to appear as if I'm "investigating," I slip a pair of inconspicuous (i.e., stealth) Core-sound binaural microphones onto my eyeglasses and simply stand beside the road, facing in the opposite direction, faithfully capturing the crows of this rooster village across the road behind me.

Hear the individual voices in these roosters, especially obvious in the four birds during the ten seconds beginning at 1:28.

Later, just a few miles down the road, I'd be told that it's not illegal to raise fighting cocks, only to fight them. And, with a smile, my friend added that "Everyone in eastern Kentucky's into something illegal--you just don't know what it is."


Carolina wren, song sparrow, scarlet tanager, the hum of equipment in a nearby shed.


Photo by Don Kroodsma


Photo by Don Kroodsma