Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Richmond National Battlefield Park, Malvern Hill, Virginia

May 17, 7:16 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:59 a.m.

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I stand at the base of Malvern Hill, along Carters Mill Road, the road here since well before the Civil War and crossed by the Confederate troops that August morning back in 1862.

A field sparrow sings his bouncing ball, a deeply slurred whistle that gradually morphs into a trill over about two and a half seconds. It's the same song over and over as I listen to him, 37 of them in a little over the eight minutes as I listened, about four to five songs per minute. That's about half the rate that he would have been singing his more complex songs just a little earlier during the dawn chorus.

Listen to this male's two neighbors at VA-20, VA-21.


Rain. In the distance, a second field sparrow, tufted titmouse, grasshopper sparrow, indigo bunting. A train whistle.


Photo by John Van de Graaff