Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Richmond National Battlefield Park, Malvern Hill, Virginia

May 6; 5:45 a.m.

Sunrise at 6:08 a.m.

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He repeats himself, not surprisingly, the same wheeze over and over, until 0:31, when he adds a single brief high note. Then listen carefully to the wonderful variety of wheezes that he offers over the next minute or so. I have never heard such a performance from a blue-gray gnatcatcher; all these years I've heard only the endless repetition of a single wheeze over and over, but this is, after all, the dawn chorus, and perhaps I've never been out among the gnatcatchers at dawn, when everyone is in peak form. His two neighbors are calling excitedly, too (see VA-25), the three of them seemingly sparring in the treetops above the sign telling of the slaughter here on Malvern Hill.


Distant northern cardinal, tufted titmouse, eastern wood-pewee.


Photo by John Van de Graaff