Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Lake Anna, Spotsylvania, Virginia

May 7, 6:45 a.m.

Sunrise at 6:06 a.m.

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During relaxed singing, a Carolina chickadee sings many examples of one song before switching to another, but this excited male runs quickly through his repertoire, sometimes even alternating different songs (e.g., A B A B A), adding a few aggressive "gargle" calls as well.

What a nice variety of songs he delivers, with whistled notes varying beautifully in both pitch and duration. The first song is a striking five-note affair (A), and at 0:27 he introduces song B, at 1:31 song C. Using these letters and "g" for the aggressive gargle notes, the first two minutes of this selection can be coded as follows:

A A A g g A B B B g B B A

B A B A A g g C C C' C' C' B

It gets a little complicated with the C songs, because in his excitement he adds one or two notes from song A to the end of his C song (I've coded those songs as C').


Wood thrush, Carolina wren, yellow-throated warbler, eastern towhee, tufted titmouse, ovenbird.


Photo by Wil Hershberger