Books on bird song

Birdsong: A Natural History
Stap, Don
Scribner, 2005
–a history of the study of bird song

Birdsong by the Seasons: A Year of Listening to Birds
Kroodsma, Donald
Houghton Mifflin Company, 2009
–Kroodsma continues with his in-depth studies, focusing on a few birds per month, +2CDs

Born to Sing: an interpretation and world survey of bird song
Hartshorne, Charles
Indiana University Press, 1973
–introduces a system of evaluating the "best singers" around the world

Music of the Birds: A Celebration of Bird Song
Lang, Elliott
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999
–coffee table book replete with gorgeous photos of singing birds, with poems, text, +CD

Sibley's Birding Basics: How to identify birds, using the clues in feathers, habitats, behaviors, and sounds
Sibley, David Allen
Alfred A. Knopf, 2002
–basic, but frequently forgotten important tips. Worth a re-read or two

The Singing Life of Birds: The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong
Kroodsma, Donald
Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005
–The inveterate field scientist and his obsession with bird songs, +CD. The real mystery is how the Wood Thrush make two separate sounds at once and combines them: slowed down on track #70

What the robin knows : how birds reveal the secrets of the natural world
Young, Jon; with science and audio editing by Dan Gardoqui.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
–Very helpful pointers on learning all bird calls, and what different types of call signify. Explains how to watch without being seen as a threat, which can allow the observer to see other animals as well as the birds

Why Birds Sing: a journey into the mystery of bird song
Rothenberg, David
Basic Books, 2005
–a musician's viewpoint on bird song


Dawn Chorus:

And now I think over how, one by one, I learned the different calls of the wild folk until the hubbub changed to music, and the morning chorus, instead of being a disturbance, became a joy to be looked forward to and long remembered.

–From Book of Bird Life (1930), by Aruth Allen

'Tis always morning somewhere,
and above the awakening continents,
from shore to shore,
Somewhere the birds are singing evermore.

–From Tales of a Wayside Inn, The Poet's tale: Birds of Killingsworth (1902), by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

'Thro' all the Woods they heard the charming Noise Of chirping Birds

–From Of the Nature of Things (c. 1st century BC), by T. Lucretius Cafus

Northern Mockingbird:

There come a sound o' melody
No mortal ever heard
An' all the birds seemed singin'
From the throat o' one sweet bird!

–From The Mocking-bird (1894), by Frank L. Stanton

I speak as you speak,
Sing as you sing, or better.
I am your echo.

I am not a clone,
But can be mistaken for
The original.

Three times I sing you.
Before I find a new song,
I mock you three times.

–From Birds of a Feather (2011), by Jane Yolen

To a Thrush:

Dear hidden bird, full oft I've heard
Your pleasant invitation;
And searched for you amid your boughs
With fruitless observation.

–From The Song of the Thrush (1904), by Christopher Pearce Cranch


There's a song on each swinging bough
Of the forest green with spring.
There's a golden note from the Oriole's throat
That the whisp'ring zephyrs bring.

–by John Proctor Mills (1923)

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush

Musings on the Wood Thrush:

"It lifts and exhilarates me…

It is a medicative draught to my soul.

It changes all
hours to an eternal morning.

It banishes all

–Henry David Thoreau


Website and photographs 2016 by Gordon Beebe