Many bird songs are rich and complex, difficult to remember, and nearly impossible to imitate. Some species' songs, however, sound as if they could have been whistled by a human. These simpler, pure-noted songs are some of the most familiar and easy to remember. These songs -- including the "pee-a-wee" of this Eastern Wood-Pewee -- are a great place to start building your knowledge of birding by ear!
Birds That Whistle
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote.
[Olive-sided Flycatcher, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/195787, 0.10-11]
Some of the most familiar and easy to remember bird songs are those that sound like they could have been whistled by a human. Their quality and simplicity remind us of the sounds that we can make, even with our modest human whistling apparatus. [Olive-sided Flycatcher, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/195787, 0.10-11]
The Olive-sided Flycatcher has one of the most distinctive and catchy songs on the continent [http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/195787, 0.10-11]. And many birders learn early on to pick out its sharply inflected three-note song, and to imitate it. [Narrator’s imitation of whistle].
The Eastern Wood-Pewee has a catchy tune too… [http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/191222, 0.36-42] …pretty much whistling out its name, pee-a-wee. A bit harder to imitate, though [narrator imitate].
But it’s not only little songbirds that whistle. [Northern Saw-whet Owl song, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/130470, 0.14 – 20 - quieter rec around 2.40 in]. This night-time whistler's a Northern Saw-whet Owl [http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/130470, 0.14 – 20]. We like to think that owls only hoot, but these sound a lot like human whistles and are easy to copy.
Finally, here’s a bird that whistles its heart out. [from Bird Songs of the Pacific Northwest, Pigeon Guillemot, 0.37-.45]. These shrill notes belong to a little seabird, the Pigeon Guillemot [GILL-uh-mot]. Cousin to the puffins, whistling over the waves along the Pacific Coast. [repeat Keller and Vyn recording]
For BirdNote, I'm Michael Stein.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Olive-sided Flycatcher  recorded by Bob McGuire; Eastern Wood-Pewee  recorded by Wilbur L Hershberger; Northern Saw-whet Owl  recorded by Gregory F Budney; Pigeon Guillemot recorded by Geoffrey A Keller and Gerrit Vyn, featured on the CD 'Bird Songs of the Pacific Northwest' Disk 2 Track 53, Macaulay Library, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.
Surf sound '#23 Surf Moderate' from Nature SFX, recorded by Gordon Hempton, of QuietPlanet.com
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org January 2017/2021 Narrator: Michael Stein