Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Big Hole National Battlefield, Wisdom, Montana

June 6, 7:36 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:45 a.m.

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A northern waterthrush and his neighbor sing initially, each with a typical three-parted song. The songs of these birds are almost identical to each other, best heard in back-to-back songs from the two birds beginning at 0:03 and again at 0:12. The background bird then becomes less noticeable.

A song sparrow chimes in (0:08), repeating his song in the background until he's last heard at 1:34.

How stunning to hear the familiar, loud hey-sweetie of a black-capped chickadee (0:31)! It's a nice reminder of how similar these learned songs are across the country (and fun to anticipate the different songs that we'll hear west of the Cascades in Oregon).

After the last northern waterthrush song (at 1:34), yellow warblers dominate the background, the chickadee offering a few more hey-sweetie songs as well.


A second northern waterthrush, Wilson's snipe winnows, song sparrow, black-capped chickadee (0:31), veery, yellow warbler, and the ever present rippling of this North Fork of the Big Hole River.


Photo by John Van de Graaff