Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

June 2, 6:25 a.m.

Sunrise at 6:23 a.m.

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A remarkable mimic, taking the calls of other birds and incorporating those calls into his songs.

The contents of this recording:

1) Frist 7 songs, from 0:00 to 0:34. These songs begin with four or five sharp whit-whit calls pilfered from a wood thrush.

2) Next 8 songs, 0:34 to 1:17. The second song type is easily distinguished from the others, but the mimicry in it is not so obvious to me.

3) Last 9 songs, 1:17 to end. The mimicry here is special. The second note of this third song type is a prominent wheeee-up call of a great crested flycatcher; a split second later are what sounds like two dee calls from the chick-a-dee-dee of a Carolina chickadee (recognizable only when I isolated that part of the song and played those two notes by themselves); and toward the end are two sharp whit-whit notes of the wood thrush.

He has perhaps six to nine other songs he could sing as well, each one consisting largely of mimicry of other species, it seems.


Tufted titmouse, Carolina chickadee, northern cardinal, indigo bunting, red-bellied woodpecker, brown-headed cowbird, and rain falling from the trees after an overnight rain.


Photo by John Van de Graaff