Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Willamette Valley, William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon

June 15, 9:09 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:27 a.m.

Download the Recording

So many many years ago I stood at this very place recording Bewick's wrens--what memories flood over me. Now, some kind of confrontation has apparently developed between two neighboring males. The calls of two birds overlap one another at first, with the near male calling sharply plit plit plit, the other bird (his mate?) a higher, more tonal pseee . . .pseee . . . pseee. Eventually the male sings four times before flying off (30 wing beats/sec).

A curious echo appears after the third and fourth songs. The male had flown in line with a nearby building, and the song echoes back to my microphone, making it seem as if another bird sings in the background. The echo is delayed by 0.405 seconds, the time required for sound to travel about 450 feet to and from the building.

Here are the four different Bewick's wren songs that I recorded at my favorite Finley refuge location: OR-355, OR-356, OR-357, OR-358.


Spotted towhee, Swainson's thrush, lazuli bunting


Photo by John Van de Graaff