Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Mississippi River flood plain, Perryville, Missouri

May 30, 9:22 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:39

Download the Recording

Just across the Mississippi River from the Cora coal works is another distinctive song dialect.

Here are five songs from dickcissel number 1 in the Perryville dialect.

I walk down the road, listening to one dickcissel after another, all lined up on the utility poles. How remarkably similar their songs, how each has conformed to the local dialect here. In the sonagrams I study, I can see they agree on the details of the dick dick notes before the songs; and the two-parted song is stunningly similar among males, too, typically three low phrases followed by two higher, reedy trills.

Here's a summary of the dickcissel dialects you can listen to:

Illinois, Shawnee National Forest, one male: IL-107

Illinois, beside the Mississippi River, three males: IL-108, IL-109, IL-110

Missouri, beside the Mississippi River, four males: MO-111, MO-112, MO-113, MO-114

Missouri, Prairie State Park, six males: MO-154, MO-155, MO-156, MO-157, MO-158, MO-159


A friendly Missouri wind.


Photo by John Van de Graaff