Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma


Sweetwater River, Split Rock, near Jeffrey City, Wyoming

June 11, 6:54 a.m.

Sunrise at 5:33 a.m.

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First up are songs of an American goldfinch; then at 0:29 there are a few calls of the questioning goldfinch kind, rising in pitch, si-si-leeee?

At 0:38, a Yellow Warbler supplants the goldfinch and sings in its place, after which the goldfinch can be heard off to the side, continuing to sing and call to the end of this recording.

The first three songs of the yellow warbler are all the same, making me think at first that here is his daytime song, but then he lapses into a considerable variety of other songs. The reason may well be the yellow warbler in the background, who can be heard calling shortly after 2:00.

The foreground yellow warbler then mutes his songs, a behavior that often indicates a strong aggressive response, close to fighting. There's a brief surge in loudness a little after 3:00, but then he's relatively muted again. About 5: 00 he is bolder, singing louder and louder, until about 5:50 he's as loud as he had been back about 1:20; in the seven songs during the last minute, he sings four different songs, indicating that he's still a little perturbed and agonistic about what's going on.


Wilson's snipe winnowing throughout, yellow-breasted chat, red-winged blackbird, mourning dove.


Photo by John Van de Graaff


Photo by John Van de Graaff