Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Monteverde, Costa Rica

July, mid-morning

Sunrise hours before

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A few sounds from the tropics, illustrating the variety of songs in the repertoire of a three-wattled bellbird singing the learned dialect of northern Costa Rica.

A bellbird is a cotinga, and cotingas are close relatives of the flycatchers. Interestingly, the flycatchers do not learn their songs, but the cotingas do. Why did bellbirds evolve the ability to learn songs? That's the big evolutionary question. For more details, see the relevant chapter in The Singing Life of Birds (Houghton Mifflin, 2005).


Drawing by Nancy Haver