Listening to a Continent Sing. Birdsong by Bicycle from the Atlantic to the Pacific

Web--home page--PUP--Kroodsma_Mockup_ForWeb_TransFrom Princeton University Press, Spring 2016

Go to the special website for Listening to a Continent Sing

Join birdsong expert Donald Kroodsma on a ten-week, ten-state bicycle journey as he travels with his son from the Atlantic to the Pacific, lingering and listening to our continent sing as no one has before. On remote country roads, over terrain vast and spectacular, from dawn to dusk and sometimes through the night, you will gain a deep appreciation for the natural symphony of birdsong many of us take for granted. Come along and marvel at how expressive these creatures are as Kroodsma leads you west across nearly five thousand miles—at a leisurely pace that enables a deep listen.

Listening to a Continent Sing is also a guided tour through the history of a young nation and the geology of an ancient landscape, and an invitation to set aside the bustle of everyday life to follow one’s dreams. It is a celebration of flowers and trees, rocks and rivers, mountains and prairies, clouds and sky, headwinds and calm, and of local voices and the people you will meet along the way. It is also the story of a father and son deepening their bond as they travel the slow road together from coast to coast.

Beautifully illustrated throughout with drawings of birds and scenes and featuring QR codes that link to audio birdsong, this poignant and insightful book takes you on a travel adventure unlike any other—accompanied on every leg of your journey by birdsong.

Go to the special website for Listening to a Continent Sing

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“One of the fascinating aspects of both the book and the recordings is that, while chasing after birdsong, Mr. Kroodsma captures so much other detail as well. Don’t miss the pack of mongrels and hounds bellowing the bikers through Dwarf, Ky., or the creaking bicycle saddle accompanying the rich afternoon chorus of a moist deciduous forest on a steep uphill climb in the same state’s damp and diverse mountains. Listening to a Continent Sing along with its website, is both an inspiration and a bundle of gifts waiting to be unwrapped.”–Julie Zickefoose, Wall Street Journal (read the full review here)

“Blurring the lines between travelogue and casual scientific observation, Listening to a Continent Sing recounts their journey and transports the reader into the mind of a scientist renewing his awe of nature through an endearing portrayal of avian vocal communication and behavior. In its refreshing mix of history, linguistics, biology, and ethology, Listening to a Continent Sing brings back the joy and enthusiasm for scientific pursuits that can sometimes wane with time.”–Helen J. Barr, Science (full review here)

“Birdsong maven Donald Kroodsma’s travel journal is a welcome addition to the cycling-road-trip genre that began over a century ago. . . . It’s the author’s knowledge of birdsong . . . that makes this book so delightful.”Natural History (full review here)

“Kroodsma evokes the profound pleasure of rising before dawn to listen to the morning songs of the birds and ending the day with their evening choruses. . . . An informative exploration of the subtleties of bird songs.”Kirkus (full review here)

Listening to a Continent Sing will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in the outdoors, by cyclists, and above all by birders. I have only just begun reading the book, but I already suspect that it will turn out to be one of the outstanding popular bird books of the year.”The Curious Naturalist blog (full review here)

“The story is charming, funny, poignant, and heartwarming. . . . If you are going to treat yourself to one special gift this summer, make it this one!”–Cathy Taibbi, (full review here)

“While the book may be categorized as a birding adventure, it is also the story of a father and son deepening their bond as they cycled by day and camped by night together for 10 weeks.”–Jennifer J. Meyer, Orange County Register (full review here)

“Our sophistication in listening to birdsong and our enjoyment have been greatly facilitated by the writings of Don Kroodsma. . . Kroodsma has an insatiable curiosity about bird vocalizations and also a deep passion for his subject . . .[Listening to a Continent Sing] is an engaging mix of travelogue and natural history, with a little bit of geology and anthropology mixed in . . . This book provides a delightful, vicarious ride across our country. We stop frequently to appreciate the music of the birds.”–Herb Wilson, Portland Press Herald (full review here)

“Kroodsma . . . is to birdsong what a sommelier is to fine wine . . . Listening to a Continent Sing is a feast for the senses and will no doubt inspire many to listen more deeply and more intently on the next walk or bike ride.”—Urban Audubon, New York City Audubon (full review here)

Listening to a Continent Sing: Birdsong by Bicycle from the Atlantic to the Pacific is a stream of consciousness read. Not your typical trade book in that it likely would not appeal to younger readers, or even those in the middle grades. However, the creative high school or college level instructor who selects passages with an eye to supporting the teaching of classes ranging from biology to geography to creative writing and even history will find a wealth of information to support their teaching.”–The National Science Teachers Association (full review here)

“Listening to a Continent Sing: Birdsong by Bicycle from the Atlantic to the Pacific” by Donald Kroodsma (Princeton University Press): Kroodsma and his son David embarked on a 10-week bicycle journey through 10 states to listen to the symphonic stylings of nature’s composers. “Listening to a Continent Sing” is a travelogue of Kroodsma’s 5,000-mile trip, a celebration of nature, and a multimedia experience — the book is littered with quick-response codes that link to samples of birdsong found throughout the trip, such as the pileated woodpecker and the sandhill crane.”–The Chicago Tribune (full review here)

“Donald Kroodsma knows how to listen to birds and, more importantly for us, can communicate that brilliantly through the written word. His The Singing Life of Birds will open up bird song to you in a way that you never thought possible. This book, in which he travels from one side of the country to the other listening to birds, promises to be a great read as well. Through the companion website, which you can easily access via QR codes throughout the book, the reader can listen in and experience the soundscape along with Kroodsma.”–The Birder’s Library (full review here)

“Kroodsma is one of America’s (and indeed the world’s) leading academics in the field of bird songs . . . It is quickly clear that Kroodsma is a master of his subject, educating his son (and thereby the reader too) in the true complexity of bird songs  . . . By the end of the author’s journey the reader will have experienced a prolonged masterclass in birdsong study but the book can be appreciated at a simpler level too, as a celebration of some of America’s most alluring landscapes – the Appalachian forests, the boundless grasslands of Kansas, the soaring wall of the Rockies and the roaring surf of the Pacific . . . It is also a personal book, recounting a father’s evolving relationship with his son and a rationalisation of the author’s decision to quit the financially-driven and politicised world of academia and begin a new life in search of birds. However this book is approached, Kroodsma is an accomplished storyteller and an engaging guide. It will appeal to the general reader of travel narratives but there is much of value here too for the ardent birder, lister and taxonomist.” —Andy Stoddart, Rare Bird Alert ( (full review here)

Anyone for a bike ride? How about a 4,200-mile bike ride across the continent? . . . This is a fun book to read, especially if you enjoy birdsong and want to learn more about our North American birds. The adventures and stories along the way are a bonus. Nancy Haver’s many fine drawings add further depth and enjoyment to the book. The index, an important feature that is often underappreciated, is very well organized and helpful, and makes finding specific topics and references simple. . . . Birdsong transports Kroodsma to a more spiritual state at times. In a reflective moment, he quotes Emily Dickinson: “I hope you love birds, too. It is economical. It saves going to Heaven,” then adds that “Yes, Heaven is now.” Many of us would agree.–Ernie Jardine, Birding (full review here)

. . . bicycling and birdsong are but two themes of the legion Kroodsma paints into this well-illustrated and well-tuned masterpiece. He and his 24-year-old son David bicycle for 71 days from Yorktown, Virginia (4 May) to the Oregon coast (12 July) describing each portion of the journey in 31 chapters . . . I read the first 100 pages of the book without listening to it . . . After 100 pages, my curiosity made me turn to the book’s website where I could listen . . .  What a treat. I found myself mesmerized, skipping around to hear a certain bird and see its photograph or the person or the scene. I almost forgot to get back to the narrative! . . .  This book will be enjoyed by anyone with a general interest in natural history, or bicycling, not just those interested in ornithology or birdsong. So many themes permeate this fine book you are sure to find much of interest and learn a great deal about birdsong in the process. What a trip!–Eugene Morton, Wilson Journal of Ornithology (full review here)

From the Back Cover

“Kroodsma delivers a continent-wide perspective on birdsong, weaving behavior, habitat, and evolution into a fabric that is rolled out as he and his son make the East-West journey by bicycle. There is no better guide to take you on this journey, as no one has the breadth of knowledge and field experience with birdsong that Kroodsma has.”–Greg Budney, Cornell Lab of Ornithology