A while back, I was birding with a hardcore twitcher in Australia. He had requested a list of the Australian birds I had seen the day before and had planned out a route to try to get me a hundred more ticks (i.e. new life birds) by the end of the day. We headed out at 5 am and birded until 10 pm, without even stopping for lunch. It was amazing.
At one point during the day, I said to him, “In the US, we come up with little mnemonics or phrases to remember the bird calls by…for example, the chickadee says, ‘Hey sweetie!’ Do you have mnemonics for bird songs here?”
He contemplated it for a minute, then said, “Yeah, the White-plumed Honeyeater says ‘Shit a brick!'”
I choked on the water I was drinking and he patted me on the back while I was coughing.
Later, we encountered the bird and I’ll be gosh darned if that isn’t exactly what it said.
A while ago I posted a children’s book with the 30 most common backyard birds of northeastern North America and their songs, but those aren’t necessarily the most fun ones, so here are some of my favourites, with photos stolen (and properly attributed, I hope) liberally from the internet.
Sweet, sweet! I’m so sweet!
Oh sweet Canada Canada!
Looking for me? Over here! Can you see me?
Drink your TEEEEAAAAAA!
Who cooks for you? WHO cooks for you all?!
I’m so lazzeeeeee! (or Please, please, please, squeeze!)
Drop-it; drop-it; cover-it-up; cover-it-up; pull-it-up; pull-it-up!
Teaaaa-kettle tea-kettle tea-kettle
But I DO love you!
Oh! Dear me! Three blind mice!
Why don’tcha come to me?
I’m I’m I’m so sweet!
Madge, Madge, Madge, pick beetles off, the water’s hot!
Listen to my evening sing-ing-ing-ing!
If I sees you, I will seize you! I will squeeze you til you squirt! (to a caterpillar, we can only assume)
Quick! Give me a rain check
Any other bird mnemonics you love? Share them in the comments and I will add them. 🙂
NB: In retrospect, I’m surprised by how many of these birds I already had!
UPDATE: suggestions from the comments!
Jeff Ollerton suggests the Great Kiskadee:
Bem te vi! (which translates to I see you well!)
and the Yellowhammer: