Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, southeastern Oregon

June 11, 6:40 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:14 a.m.

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Pied-billed grebes, on a pond surrounded by marsh, hence the rich soundscape of wetland birds here. At least three pairs are calling on this pond. Just listen to the extended series of kuk kuk kuk notes at the beginning of a song, how they transition into a series of kaow kaow kaow notes, the entire song lasting perhaps 15 seconds. I'm not sure whether two or three birds are involved in the sequence from 0:05 to 0:35.

As two pairs approach each other, there's a rush and splashing (2:22), and near the end of this selection (3:07) two birds greet each other, most likely male and female, with a rapid series of ek-ek-ek calls, followed by kaow kaow calls.


Marsh wren, song sparrow, ring-necked pheasant, yellow-headed blackbird, red-winged blackbird, black-crowned night heron, cattle, yellow warbler, cree-creet of western grebe (2:36), willow flycatcher, Bullock's oriole, common yellowthroat, American crow.


Photo by John Van de Graaff


Photo by John Van de Graaff