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The Singing Life of Birds: The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong (with CD)
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The Singing Life of Birds: The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong (with CD)

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  199 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Listen to Birds Sing as you've never listened before, as the world-renowned birdsong expert Donald Kroodsma takes you on personal journeys of discovery and intrigue. Read stories of thrushes and thrashers, wrens and robins, warblers and whip-poor-wills, bluebirds and cardinals, and may more birds. Learn how each acquires its songs, how songs vary from bird to bird and plac ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published April 4th 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2005)
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Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"As dawn's first light sweeps the globe, so too does a wave of birdsong sweep from east to west, endlessly, day after day, millenium after millenium."
Kroodsma writes about birdsong with a poet's ear and with a scientist's passion for detail and veracity. Or more accurately, his writing actually reveals the deep kinship possible between poetry and science. The level of detail was sometimes hard to follow as I am just learning to distinguish a very few songs Still, though the level of detail is ch
Jan 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a fairly new bird enthusiast, and this book has inspired further enthusiasm. I'm reading it very slowly with my sweetie (also a birder), over many many months. Kroodsma's fascination and delight in birds, and his insatiable questions are infectious. He is meticulous (as one would expect a scientist to be), but not often to a fault (though for some people, it would be too much). The genetic and morphological diversity you'll come to understand through this book will undoubtedly amaze you, an ...more
May 15, 2011 added it
Not a birdsong guide; rather an introduction to the variety of sounds bird make, how they are researched, and what this tells us about the birds, their evolutionary history, and ourselves. A great introduction to the science of studying birds, and just enough "waxing poetic" to keep it from being too dry.
Bill Leach
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it

Some birds learn songs while the song is built into the DNA for others. At present, it is thought that only the songbirds (suborder Passieri of the perching birds), parrots and some hummingbirds. They represent about half the bird species.

Kroodsma's early work was done on Bewick's Wren where he showed that earlier hatching birds learn more songs than later hatching birds, opening the question of whether the greater repertoire provides an advantage to the bird. The author shows how the sonagram c
Mar 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-faction
great book for bird lovers but i could not read it through. it's more of a reference book about recording bird song and making sonograms of them. the author writes well with an entertaining style but he goes into technical scholarly details on every bird species he's ever encountered (hyperbole much?).

i had this on loan through interlibrary loan and i sent it back unfinished. in fact, i did not get very far in but i would like to own it, i think.
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
this spendid and magnificently illustrated collection has kept me captivated for months now....and actually inspired me to begin a new series of paintings based upon my decades as an avid bird watcher. some evenings i just browse the rich color plates and other evenings i read a story or two...always calms me by providing yet another glimpse into the winged ones ways of natural rhythms plus i so enjoy the tremendously diverse writing styles and as mentioned... the art throughout
Dec 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kroodsma's step-by-step analysis of sonagrams is very clear, and his passion for recording bird vocalizations is persuasive. As for myself, I'm tempted to acquire a parabolic mic and digital recorder and get out there listening. The passages in which Kroodsma details his field work, hour by hour, are less effective.
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
While I was reading this book, I couldn't stop talking about it. It had never occurred to me that some birds are born with their song in their genes, and others must learn to sing. The process of song learning, as described by the author, is fascinating. The significance of bird song encompasses so many things, from simple calls of communication, to pleas for a mate, to the defense of territory.

The book contains numerous sonograms which correspond to tracks on a CD of bird songs, which also come
Oct 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Zina by: Tina & Ric Chrislip
My sister, Tina, and her husband gave me this book. Ric heard a lecture by Donald Kroodsma at Hartwick and knew I'd love it. SO TRUE! I've since heard him interviewed along with the son of the man who authored the Peterson's Field Guide. Delightful.
There is a CD in the back of this book that is simply fun to put on and listen to while working in the kitchen. So many amazing birds. Such an incredible world the Lord hath made.

I haven't checked out the other books Kroodsma has written, but I'm sure
Dec 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: bird lovers
This book was one I bought to keep Mommy-brain at bay. Wow. The author does a really good job of making studying birdsong seem like the most fascinating thing in the world. My only gripe is that after going on and on about how intricate and amazing some particular aspect of birdsong is, he'll interject a comment on evolution.
Mar 27, 2010 rated it it was ok
Disappointing. Much more detail about the author's life and methods than I cared about. Too little emphasis on categories of bird songs and how to recognize different birds. The emphasis is on using sonograms, which are no doubt helpful to a scientist but were mystifying to me.
Dec 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
for serious birders only, and even then i recommend skimming through most of it. but a fascinating subject, and comes with a great CD of birdsongs, which are broken down millisecond by millisecond in the book via sonograms.
Mad Russian the Traveller
recommending this to my good friend Dr. Orsborn, who loves bird watching...
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature, birds, science
I learned a *lot* from this book. It has already changed how I listen to birds. And it's written in a surprisingly engaging manner.
Feb 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: birds, nature, wildlife
Enjoyable book on how and why birds sing. Kroodsma presents a series of case studies that are drawn from his research but presented in a language easily understandable to non-scientists.
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
I actually abandoned this book which I rarely do because it was just too technical. It's not really for the lay bird watcher, but more for researchers working in the field.
I'm hoping to sell a review of this book to a bird magazine. It comes with a CD.
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Changed how I listen to birds.
Jan 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nature
While I learned a lot by reading (most of) this book, the journal-style manner of writing started to wear on me.
Jessie (saxgrl1)
Aug 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Birders
Shelves: nature, birding
An amazing look into birds and their song. Lots of natural history.
J. Guapster
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, nature
Imagine a field biologist who could explain his field experiments in the form of travel/nature writing. That's Kroodsma. Book also comes with a lovely CD.
Dec 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: natural-history
Among the best birding books I've ever read. A masterful piece of work.
Evan Russell
rated it it was amazing
Aug 02, 2016
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Oct 18, 2016
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Oct 31, 2011
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Feb 13, 2015
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Dec 07, 2010
Fadlin Adhitama
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Sep 18, 2017
Evan Mistur
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Jun 02, 2015
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