Some birds, such as the Northern Bobwhite, take their names from their songs or vocalizations: "Bobwhite! Bobwhite!" The Killdeer is another bird named for its song: "Kill-dee, kill-dee, kill-dee." There are others. "Poorwill, poorwill, poorwill" calls this Common Poorwill. This bird is the cousin of the Whip-poor-will, another bird that calls its own name.
Birds That Say Their Own Names
Written by Frances Wood
This is BirdNote!
[Call of the Common Poorwill]
Ever wonder how birds were named? Some, such as the Wilson’s Snipe, were named for people; others for a distinguishing physical characteristic — like the Spotted Towhee; and some for geographic locations, like the California Quail. In a few cases, the bird’s song or vocalization is incorporated into its name. Let’s listen to a few birds that call their names.
[Black-capped Chickadee call]
Do you recognize this “chick-a-dee, dee, dee” call? [Repeat call.] That’s the Black-capped Chickadee.
How about the “bobwhite?” [Northern Bobwhite call] The Northern Bobwhite. Listen again. [Repeat call.]
And this bird? [Killdeer call]
The Killdeer is a common shorebird that often uses this alarm call when predators approach its nest. [Killdeer call.]
And finally, a bird you might hear in the open, arid areas of the West and Midwest [Common Poorwill call].
It’s the Common Poorwill, a nocturnal hunter of insects. The easiest way to locate this species is to listen for its call. [Common Poorwill call.]
To listen to these calls more closely, begin at our website, BirdNote.org. I’m Mary McCann.
Support for BirdNote comes from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, presenting its new “Bird Photography” online course, featuring Melissa Groo. Learn more at academy.allaboutbirds.org.
Calls of the birds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Black-capped Chickadee recorded by R.S. Little; Killdeer and Common Poorwill by G.A. Keller; Bobwhite by P.P. Kellogg.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org July 2016/2020 Narrator: Mary McCann