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, 5:05 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:27 a.m.

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A Pacific-slope flycatcher in dawn song, his three songs indistinguishable to my ears from his close relative the cordilleran flycatcher (actually, the debate is still raging as to whether the Pacific-slope and cordilleran flycatchers are separate species).

The first three songs are 1) the high, thin seeet, 2) the longish, two-syllable ka-SLWEEP, and 3) the harsher pa-TIK. In the first 30 seconds of this recording, he sings this seeet, ka-SLWEEP, pa-TIK sequence 11 times, as this is his favored sequence throughout the entire recording. Only once, at 0:38, does he insert an extra ka-SLWEEP into the sequence.

Here, compare for yourself the songs of the cordilleran flycatcher (ID-202) with those of the Pacific-slope flycatcher (OR-362). Do they sound like two different species to you?


American robin, Swainson's thrush, dark-eyed junco?


Photo by Brian L. Sullivan