Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Richmond National Battlefield Park, Malvern Hill, Virginia

May 6; 5:40 a.m.

Sunrise at 6:08 a.m.

Download the Recording

Two yellowthroats counter each other on the slopes of Malvern Hill. At first, over the first three songs, the background bird sings immediately after the near bird, even overlapping him. But then he seems to adjust his response, waiting for the near bird to finish singing before he sings. They take turns then, first one, then the other, neither interfering with the other for the rest of this 80-second selection.

Hear the differences in their songs, too, as the near bird has a higher-pitched song than the far bird, and the rhythm is all different, too.


Distant indigo bunting, grasshopper sparrow, field sparrow, and the brief churr calls and ratchet call (1:16) of a gray catbird


Photo by John Van de Graaff