Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


The Pacific Coast, South Beach State Park, Newport, Oregon

May 21, 6:57 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:42 a.m.

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My spotted towhee sings five songs, and nearly 40 minutes after I last listened to him he has returned to sing one of the songs I heard from him before (see OR-374). I enjoy the towhee, but it is the American crow who flies by during the fourth song who grabs my attention (6-7 wing beats/sec).

I let the towhee sing one more song before swinging the parabolic microphone over to the crow, who shuffles on the perch, keeping balance, then caws. In his fourth series (beginning at 1:13), he launches, cawing on the wing and fading into the distance, where he offers one more cawing triplet before going silent. These caws are nothing like the robust cawing I expect from crows in the continent's interior.


Brown-headed cowbird, American robin, and the foghorn at Newport with the sound of distant surf at South Beach State Park.


Photo by John Van de Graaff