Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Muddy Gap, Wyoming

June 18, 4:30 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:32 a.m.

Download the Recording

Here is the chat who kept me up all night long, blissfully, as I lay in the tent monitoring how he moved from one package to another. In this not so aesthetically pleasing recording, but one that is near to my heart, listen to all that this bird does.

In his first package, focus on the low-frequency series of calls that sound much like they're mimicked from a robin; they occur at 0:05, 0:13, 0:19, 0:25, 0:30, with the last of them at 1:35.

The next package is recognizable by the single low note that occurs throughout, beginning at 1:46, at the height of noise from a truck passing. It occurs then at 1:52, 1:58, and many times until its last occurrence at 7:05, when it disappears.

The next package is a little more difficult to recognize, but wait for 7:27 when you hear a single low distinctive note. There it is again at 7:32, 7:38, 7:43, and so on, until it last appears at 8:31.

The fourth package of songs is easily recognizable by what sounds like the imitation of a black-billed magpie, at 8:29, which continues through to the end of the recording (last heard at 9:16).

Overall, a spectacular recording in how it reveals the essence of chat, also revealing in how traffic noise on highways can make a recording less than pleasing.


A yellow warbler at dawn, heavy truck traffic from the road construction, and my walking out after having placed the recorder and microphone on the rocks


Photo by John Van de Graaff