Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Richmond National Battlefield Park, Malvern Hill, Virginia (at nearby Willis Methodist Church)

May 6, 7:15 a.m.

Sunrise at 6:08 a.m.

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Yes, what a mimic he is. I catch glimpses of his skills, with some mimicry blatant, other bits of it subtle so that I'm often not sure what he's up to. Here I list what strikes me as I listen:

0:03, house sparrow

0:30, northern flicker Klee-yer! call

0:50, purple martin

1:10, blue jay

1:47, common yellowthroat

2:00, common yellowthroat

2:07, great crested flycatcher

2:14, northern flicker Klee-yer! call

2:21, blue jay

2:37, Carolina wren

2:48, northern cardinal

2:56, Carolina wren

3:07, eastern bluebird

3:20, purple martin?

3:29, blue jay

3:47, wood thrush

4:18, northern cardinal

4:27, tufted titmouse

5:01, northern flicker Klee-yer! call

5:04, blue jay

5:12, killdeer?

5:32, eastern phoebe! fee-bee song

6:04, great crested flycatcher?

6:16, belted kingfisher?

6:19, wood thrush

6:27, common yellowthroat

6:40, purple martin

6:48, blue jay

6:53, house finch

7:01, tufted titmouse

Some of this mimicry is striking, leaving no doubt, such as the variety of calls from blue jays, the Klee-yer! call of the northern flicker, the wichity song of a common yellowthroat, the whit-whit calls of a wood thrush, the FEE-bee of an eastern phoebe. Others are less obvious to me, and a host of his songs sound so familiar, yet I can't quite place them.


Perhaps an ovenbird and scarlet tanager, but the northern mockingbird is so overpowering that little can be heard beyond him . . . other than distant traffic noise in this densely populated section of eastern Virginia.


Photo by John Van de Graaff