Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, Stevensville, Montana

June 8, 10:45 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:44 a.m.

Download the Recording

A bobolink sings from the open fields near the entrance to the refuge. A quick study of his sonagrams shows that he uses two different songs in this sequence, and they're readily distinguishable by the first split second of each song.

Listen to the first three songs (A) and at the beginning of each you'll hear a trio of nasal, low-high-low twangy notes with the quality for which the bobolink is so well known. The fourth song (B) has a series of three (or four, if you hear the high one) rising notes, and the bobolink twanginess then takes over.

Listen for those clues and you'll hear the following sequence in this selection: A A A B B A B A B A B A A B A B A B, though beware that not all songs are complete.


Wilson's snipe winnows and calls, red-winged blackbird, common yellowthroat.


Photo by John Van de Graaff