Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, southeastern Oregon

June 12, 7:22 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:14 a.m.

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Songs of western meadowlarks carry the distance here in the open sage. This singer is 50 to 60 yards away, yet it sounds as if he's perching on my shoulder. In a minute and a quarter, he offers nine songs, all of the same type.

He also gives the explosive chupp note (0:50, 1:00, 1:09).

But who is that bird calling immediately after he sings? It's the dry rolling chatter, vicicicicicicic, nicely dropping to a lower register after the fourth song (at 0:27). Then the call is more of a vicicicicicicic ukukukukuk. The call is so well coordinated with the song that one would think it's the singer who is calling, but I think it's more likely to be his mate. Perhaps.


Wilson's snipe, willet (0:50), another male western meadowlark, mourning dove wing whistles (at 0:12).


Photo by Wil Hershberger


Photo by John Van de Graaff