Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Sweetwater River, Split Rock, near Jeffrey City, Wyoming

June 11, 7:07 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:33 a.m.

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A yellow-breasted chat, for a little over two minutes telling a bit of what is on his mind. He uses the same small package of three songs throughout: A B A C B A B C A A B A C A B. At 2:10, he flies off.

I continue to wonder how a male sings during daytime and nighttime and dawn, and just how he might vary his performance under different conditions. I'd be curious to compare how rapidly he sings, how soon he moves from one package of songs to another, how "large" the package of songs is under these different conditions (i.e., how many different songs does he sing in a package before moving on to the next), whether different songs or packages are used under different conditions. Though the chat sings so marvelously and abundantly, so little is known about how the singing mind of this bird plays out.


Murmuring of the Sweetwater River, wind, American crow, rock wren, yellow warbler, American goldfinch, mourning dove, brown-headed cowbird flight whistle (2:01),


Photo by John Van de Graaff