Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Eastern Oregon: Prairie City, Malheur National Forest, Picture Gorge

May 26, 6:36 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:17 a.m.

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A western tanager in the foreground, with one or sometimes two audible in the background. What strikes me about the foreground bird is how he varies the pace of his delivery, how sometimes his songs feel rushed (e.g., the first song, at 0:05, delivered at the rate of 3.0 song phrases per second), other times more relaxed (fourth song, at 0:37, 2.1 phrases/second; or at 3:26, 1.9 phrases/second), and sometimes the pace even varies within the song (e.g., the second song, at 0:16; or at 5:19, when he begins in a rush and then slows).

The pace has some meaning, to be sure, and the rapid pace of the foreground bird's first song at 0:05 seems to be matched immediately by the nearby background bird there, and then a third bird in the distant background sings at almost half the pace (1.8 phrases/second, at 0:10). There's much to learn about how these western tanagers sing at dawn and throughout the day!


Mountain chickadee, golden-crowned kinglet, chipping sparrow, yellow-rumped warbler, red squirrel, pileated woodpecker, red-breasted nuthatch (5:36), dark-eyed junco, mountain bluebird.


Photo by Robert Royse