Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky: Cane Creek Wildlife Management Area

May 30, 9:34 a.m.

Sunrise at 6:18 a.m.

Download the Recording

Here's the western end of the Daniel Boone National Forest, and we've crossed the line that the parulas have drawn from north to south through the eastern forests. This parula sings a string of songs that are mostly the songs used at dawn and in aggressive contexts, but last in the series, at 1:45, is a complete daytime song. Hear how it rises the scale, just as does the eastern version of this song, but at the end there's no emphatic drop to a lower frequency, but instead a rise to a higher note. It's a wimpy ending compared to the strong ending of the eastern bird. This is the song that we'll hear from this point west all the way through the Ozarks.

In his "dawn" songs, this bird whirls and twirls as he rises on buzzy phrases. In the first two songs, he seems conflicted, as those two songs begin with the rapid, buzzy phrase of the daytime song before he reverts back to his standard dawn song.

You can compare the eastern daytime songs with the emphatic ending in VA-446.


Wood thrush, hooded warbler, tufted titmouse, blue-gray gnatcatcher, American crow, tufted titmouse, Acadian flycatcher, eastern towhee. There's also a playful, muted singer in there whose identity I don't know--he's subtle, soft, intriguing, heard well from about 0:30 to 0:50, and then later again. He'll have to remain a mystery.


Photo by John Van de Graaff