Bird Memory Phrases

Song Memory Phrases

(i.e., Mnemonic* Devices To Aid Recall of Birds’ Identities;
* = Mnemonic = assisting or intended to assist memory)

by Daniel Edelstein, Novato, CA 94949, 415/382-1827 (voice), danieledelstein@att.net

Bird Species

Acadian Flycatcher
peet-seet or peet-suh or peet (i.e., pizza!)

Alder Flycatcher
fee-bee-oh

American Avocet
wheek or kleet (repeated in flight)

American Bittern
gulp-a-pump;

woonk-a-chunk

American Black Duck

quack quack quack (lower than a Mallard)

American Black Oystercatcher

wheep-wheep-wheep (rapid; clipped)

American Coot

ka-ha; ka-ha kuh-uk!; kuh-uk! (loud; clear)

American Crow

caw-caw-caw-caw-koodle-yah; koodle-yah (trilly voice)

American Golden Plover

looo-eee! poo-too-eee!; poo-too-eee!

American Goldfinch

pa-chip-chip-chip per-chick-a-ree

po-ta-to-chip (and dip {in flight})

American Kestrel

klee; klee; klee; or….killy-killy-killy

American Pipit

chwee; chwee; chwee (thin) pipit-pipit

American Redstart

tzee-tzee-tzee-tzeeeo

American Robin

cheer-up; cheer-a-lee; cheer-ee-o; whinny

American Wigeon

squeaky; nasal whistle

American Woodcock

peeent, peeent, peeent (nasal; on ground); whistling

vibration (structural body sound) during ascension while

performing spring “sky dance”; chirping sound while descending

during “sky dance”

Anna’s Hummingbird

chee-ik-ee-ik-ee-ik (grating; squeaky learned song)

Ash-throated Flycatcher

ka-brick ka-wheer prrrrrt (buzzy)

Bachman’s Sparrow

highly variable – clear; liquid; whistled phrases

Bachman’s Sparrow

seeeee; slip-slip-slip-slip-slip

Baltimore Oriole

flute-like; disjointed series of brief notes

here; here; come right here; dear

Barn Owl

screeeeeee (hissing – long)

Barn Swallow

twittering (rapid)

tit-tit-tit-tit (rapid staccato)

Barred Owl

who-cooks-for-you; who-cooks-for-you-all

Bay-breasted Warbler

tee-zee-tee-zee-tee-zee-tee (very rapid; hp)

Belted Kingfisher

stuttering; non-musical; dry rattle in-flight

Bewick’s Wren

like Song Sparrow; but thinner; more rapid

Black & White Warbler

wee-zee; wee-zee; wee-zee (like a squeaky, revolving wheel)

Black Rail

kicky-chew; kiki-krrr; pee-pee-toe

Black Skimmer

kaup; kaup; kaup (clear-noted)

Black-bellied Plover

pee-a-wee!; whee-er-wee!

Black-billed Cuckoo

ku-ku-ku

Black-billed Magpie

maaagh?!

wenk-wenk or wenk-wenk-wenk

Blackburnian Warbler

see-say; teetsa-teetsa-teetsa-  zee-zee-zee

Black-capped Chickadee

hey-sweetie (song); chick-a-dee-dee-dee (call: rapid;

higher-pitched than Carolina)

Black-chinned Hummingbird

tchew (soft; flat)

Black-crowned Night Heron

quawlk

Black-headed Grosbeak

ik (sharply) robin-like; but more musical;

call: spik

Black-legged Kittiwake

kitty-waaak

Black-necked Stilt

kyip; kyip; kyip

Blackpoll Warbler

chipping trill

Black-throated Blue Warbler

beer-beer-beer-beeee! (raspy)

zur-zur-zur-zree!

please; please; please squeeeeze

I am so laz-eeeeee

Black-throated Gray Warbler

zeedle-zeedle-zee-zeet-cha

Black-throated Green Warbler

trees-trees-murmuring-trees

zee-zee-zee-zee-zoo-zee (typical daytime song);

zee-zee-zee-zoo (atypical, aggressive dawn/dusk song)

Black-whiskered Vireo

Tim Kelly or Whip Tim Kelly

Blue Grosbeak

chink; house finch-like; but lower

Blue Jay

fee-der-de-lurp

jay-jay-jay

queedle-queedle-queedle-

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

zpeee (very high pitched; a bit raspy)

Blue-winged Warbler

beee-buzzz; blue winged! (second syllable buzzy)

Bobolink

plink, plink, plunk, plink (like an broken banjo strings playing)

Bobwhite

toot-sweet! (two notes: first lower than the next);

bob-white!

Bonaparte’s Gull

chrrr-chrrr-chrrr (rapid; buzzy)

Boreal Chickadee

chick-che-day-day

Boreal Owl

hooo-too-too-too-too…

Brewer’s Blackbird

ksh-eee (creaky)

Brewer’s Sparrow

seeeep (thin)

Bristle-thighed Curlew

cheew-iew-iew-it

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

chittering; thin, mixed with wing-hum

Broad-winged Hawk

peet-seeeeep (no pitch variation; a straight whistle)

Brown Creeper

trill (hp; rapid) always as individuals

Brown Thrasher

varied mockingbird-like phrases (repeated once or twice before

bird moves to next series of repeat phrases); sounds like

drop-it; drop-it; cover-it-up;

cover-it-up; pull-it-up; pull-it-up

Brown-headed Cowbird

bubble-bubble-zeeee!; also has a fast trill

Brown-headed Nuthatch

kit-kit-kit-..or ki-dit; ki-dit  (rapid)

Bufflehead (Fe)

quack quack quack

Bullock’s Oriole

varied; rich whistles and mixed gutturals

chuck chuck chuck-it-too-ee zhew zhew

Bushtit

lisp (multiple; very hp)

tsit (multiple; very hp)

California Quail

kurr

chi-ca-go; chi-ca-go

qua-quer-go; qua-quer-go

Canada Goose

honk; honk; honk

Canada Warbler

chip-chupitty-swee-ditchety

Canyon Wren

tewee; tewee; tewee (slowing)

tsheee (raspy; metallic)

Cape May Warbler

seet-seet-seet-seet (thin; hp)

Carolina Chickadee

car-o-li-na (four notes compose song) or

fee-bee-fee-bay (song)

chk-a-dee-dee-dee (call)

see-dee-dee-dee (alternative call)

Carolina Wren

brrrrrrr (a brief; downslurred; rapid trill like thumbing comb tines)

chooble-dee (varied triplet phrases)

tea-kettle; tea-kettle; tea-kettle

Caspian Tern

raaaah (raspy; hoarse)

Cassin’s Finch

chitty-up or chill-ee-up

Cedar Waxwing

has no true song, but displays two

different calls: trill (hp; rapid) always in flocks;

or zeee-zeee-zeee (hp trilled)

Cerulean Warbler

chyoo-chyoo-chyoo-tseee (last syllable burry)

trill (ending with buzzy-) beeee

Chestnut-sided Warbler

pleased-pleased-pleased-pleased-ta-meetcha;

see-see-see-Miss-Beech’er

Chimney Swift

chit-chit-chit-chit (rapid staccato)

twittering (rapid)

Chipping Sparrow

chipping trill (mechanical; faster than Swamp Sparrow and

Dark-Eyed Junco)

Chuck Will’s Widow

chuck-will’s-widow

Clapper Rail

tic-tic-tic-tic-tic-tic-.

Clark’s Grebe

kreeet (burry)

kriiik (burry)

Clark’s Nutcracker

kraa-a-a-a (long; drawn-out);

or kra-kra-kra-kra

Common Eider

ow-oo-urr

whoo-ooh; whoo-ooh

Common Goldeneye

pee-ik (raspy); when flies wings make structural

whistling sound

Common Loon

cooo-leee; cooo-leee (slow; plaintive)

whinny

Common Merganser

ah; ah; ah; ah (low; even croaking in flight)

Common Moorhen

kip-kip-kip-

Common Nighthawk

beeer

pee-eet (nasal)

Common Poorwill

poor-will; poor-will; poor-will

Common Raven

cruck (harsh; raspy and more guttural than Common Crow’s call);

tawk (metallic)

Common Ringed Plover

poo-eep (in-flight)

Common Screech Owl

woooooooo (warbled)

Common Snipe

skaip

wicka-wicka-wicka-

Common Tern

kee-arr (trilly)

Common Yellowthroat

witchety-witchety-witchety (slow) (Western race);

call sounds like tchep (flat and raspy and scolding)

Connecticut Warbler

chee-pa-chuh; chee-pa-chuh;

chee-pa-chuh; chee chik-a-too-ee; chik-a-too-ee

Cordilleran Flycatcher

pseet; tri-i-i-ip; seet (thin; squeaky)

Dark-eyed Junco

dit (repeated occasionally)

smack (repeated occasionally)

chipping trill (musical; tinkling)

Dickcissel

dick-dick-cissel

Downy Woodpecker

pik (sharply; softer than Hairy’s); whinny

Eastern Bluebird

pew or mew (sharply)

chatter (harsh; brief)

Eastern Kingbird

t-t-tseeep (electrical sputtering)

Eastern Meadowlark

but-I-DO-love-you;

spring-of-the-year

Eastern Phoebe

fee-beee (last syllable raspy)

Eastern Towhee

too-wheee! drink-your-teeeee!

hot dog; pickle-ickle-ickle

Eastern Wood Pewee

pee-a-weee (morning) and pee-yer or pee-oh

(alternative song often heard mid-day)

Evening Grosbeak

chirp or chiirrrp (burry)

Field Sparrow

twee-twee-twee, tea-tea-tea-tea-tea (like a dropped

pong ball)

Fish Crow

eh-eh; eh-eh (two-noted phrases)

Forster’s Tern

keeeeeeeeer

zaaaah (raspy; nasal)

Gadwall (Ma)

bek (buzzy)

(Fe quacks like mallard)

Golden-crowned Kinglet

see-see-see

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Oh; dear me!; three blind mice

Golden-winged Warbler

beeee(buzzy trill)-bz-bz-bz

Grasshopper Sparrow

pee-trip-treee (last syllable a raspy trill)

Gray Catbird

meeeee-ew or maaaaaanh (nasal)

varied mocker-like phrases (seldom repeated)

Gray-cheeked Thrush

whee-wheeo-titi-whee (thin; nasal)

Great-crested Flycatcher

wheep…..or…..whit (4X)

Great Blue Heron

squawking or croaking (very raucous)

Great Gray Owl

whoo-whoo-whoooo

Great Horned Owl

hoot-a-hoot; hoo-hoo;

(i.e., who’s awake? me too)

Great Kiskadee

Qu’est-ce qu’il dit? Qu’est-ce qu’il dit?

(“What’s he saying?”)

Great-crested Flycatcher

prrreeeet (burry); wheeep

Greater Yellowlegs

dear; dear; dear (sharply)

klee-klee-klee

tu-tu-tu (whistled, 3 or more notes vs.

2 notes of Lesser Yellowlegs)

Green Heron

skelp skelp skelp

Green-tailed Towhee

weet-churrr-chee-churrr (mixed sweet and burry notes)

Gull-billed Tern

kay-week and za-za-za

Hairy Woodpecker

peek (flat & harsher than Downy’s); whinny

Hammond’s Flycatcher

chip-chewy or chip-chewy-chew (hp and a bit burry)

Heerman’s Gull

kowok

Henslow’s Sparrow

tsip-a-tik (non-musical; repeated occasionally)

Hermit Thrush

veer-veer-veer-veer;

Why don’tcha come to me?;

Here I am right near you

Hooded Warbler

a-weeta-weeta-weet-tee-o

Horned Lark

pit-sit; tee-seep

House Finch

zreee! (included in varied,

warbling, “messy,” haphazard song)

House Sparrow

chiddik; chiddik (dry; rackety, complaining; non-musical)

House Wren

stuttering; gurgling; musical; repetitive

Inca Dove

no hope

Indigo Bunting

varied, raspy, strident phrases (in couplets)

fire; fire; where? where? here; here; see it? see it?

Kentucky Warbler

p’chee; p’chee; p’chee

Kildeer

kill-deeeeer or kee-dee; kee-dee; kee-dee

King Rail

hip-hip-hurrah (dry; rattly)

Lark Sparrow

tsip (sharp)

Laughing Gull

haa-haa-haa-haa (loud; laugh-like)

laughter (raucous; clear-noted)

Lazuli Bunting

zzzzzzd (buzzy)

Least Bittern

wuff; wuff; wuff; wuff; wuff

ku-ku-ku (lower and throatier than B-B Cuckoo)

Least Flycatcher

che-bek

Least Sandpiper

kreeet (thin; somewhat burry)

Least Tern

zreeeeek

Lesser Goldfinch

tee-yee! or tee-yer

Lesser Yellowlegs

quu-quu (whistled – in pairs)

tyooo-tyoo

yoo-yoo; yoo-yoo-yoo

Limpkin

kraaaaaah (loud; piercing; usually repeated)

Long-billed Curlew

ker-lee

Long-billed Dowitcher

keeeeek (in flight – may be repeated)

Louisiana Waterthrush

tree; tree; tree terwitter-witter wit (more twittering and varied

at end than sound-alike Northern Waterthrush’s ending);

call: chink

MacGillivray’s Warbler

chiddle-chiddle-chiddle-turtle

chip-chewy or chip-chewy-chew (hp; clearer than Hammond’s Flyc.)

tsik (low; sharp)

Magnolia Warbler

weeta-weeta-weetsee

weeta-weeta-wit-chew

(I’m-I’m-I’m-so-sweet

one; two; three; four; six)

Mallard

quack quack quack

Marbled Godwit

god-wit or ker-whit

raddika; raddika; raddika

Marsh Wren

varied; complicated; fast; bubbly and busy

Mountain Chickadee

tsik-a-zee-zee-zee (raspier than Carolina)

Mourning Dove

hooo-ah hoo-hoo-hoo;

chirry-chirry-chirry-choreeo

Mourning Warbler

turdle; turdle; turdle; two-to-you

Nashville Warbler

trill in two parts – 2nd trill is faster and lower in pitch

see-bit-see-bit-see-bit;

see-see-see-see (2-pt.)

Northern Cardinal

cheer-cheer-cheer-purty-purty-purty (siren-like sound)

Northern Flicker

kleeeyer; and

wik-wik-wik-wik (courting)

squeechu-squeechu-squeechu

Northern Mockingbird

varied phrases (three or more repeated before he

moves to next three or more repeated phrases and so on)

Northern Parula Warbler

zzzzipp…..or: trill! (fast rising; ending with)-tsyoo; or–

zeeeeeeeeeeeeeee(buzzy)-chyoo

Northern Pintail (Ma)

prrrip; prrrip (low; stuttery)

Northern Pygmy Owl

too-too-too (clear notes)

Northern Saw-whet Owl

too-too-too (clear notes)

Northern Shoveler (Ma)

chik-chik; chik-chik (Fe quacks like mallard)

Northern Waterthrush

twit-twit-twit; sweet-sweet-sweet;

chew-chew-chew

Oak Titmouse

tsik-a-dee (often has raspy quality)

Oldsquaw

ow-ow-ow-a-la

Olive-sided Flycatcher

pip-pip or pip-pip-pip

(quick; sounds like “three-beers”)

Orange-crowned Warbler

trill (ascending/accelerating; then tumbles at end)

Orchard Oriole

warbling – varied phrases; incl. guttural notes

Osprey

kyew; kyew; kyew; kyew; kyew

Ovenbird

p’cheer – p’cheer – p’cheer

t-cheer; t-cheer; t-cheer

(sounds like “teacher, teacher, teacher”)

Pacific Loon

kwa-wee!

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

see-a-weeeet!

seeet (sharp, slightly ascending in pitch)

Palm Warbler

trill (weak and buzzy)

Pectoral Sandpiper

krick (low-voiced)

Pied-Billed Grebe

gulp; gulp; gulp

kuk-kuk-kow-kow-kow-kowp-kowp

Pileated Woodpecker

kik-kik-kik-kik-kik (rate & pitch rise then fall;

has laughing quality at times and more hysterical

in personality than the sound-alike Northern Flicker)

Pine Siskin

zreeeeeee! (buzzy)

Pine Warbler

chipping trill (often shorter in length than Dark-Eyed Junco,

Chipping Sparrow, and Swamp Sparrow)

Piping Plover

pip-pip-pip

Prairie Warbler

zee-zee-zee-zee (steady rise in pitch)

Prothonotary Warbler

zweet; zweet; zweet (single pitch with no variance)

Purple Finch

warbling – varied phrases; fast; lively; brief; tighter and

more articulate than House Finch’s looser song

Pygmy Nuthatch

pippit; pippit; pippit (soft and high pitched)

Raven

squawking (raucous); low, guttural

Red-bellied Woodpecker

churrr; churrr (throaty; deeply trilled)

Red-breasted Nuthatch

ank-ank-ank (nasal monotone)

Red-eyed Vireo

now you see me, now you don’t, here I am,

there I go, here I am (often incessant and continuous)

Red-headed Woodpecker

squeer; squeer (raspy)

Red-shouldered Hawk

kee-yer; kee-yer; kee-yer.

Red-tailed Hawk

keeeeeeeeer, keeeeeeeer

Red-throated Loon

kwuk

Red-winged Blackbird

Konk-ca-ree….. or…..Come to meee;

chortle-deeeeee (high-pitched and drawn-out last syllable);

tseer, tseer

Ring-necked Pheasant

kok-kok (squawky; raucous; followed by wing-whir)

Rock Wren

ch-reee; ch-reee; ch-reee (a bit trilly-buzzy)

chee-urr; chee-urr; chee-urr (a bit raspy)

tik-eer

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

cheer-up; cheer-a-lee; cheer-ee-o (song);

chink (call)

Royal Tern

keeer (trilled)

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

ji-dit; ji-dit; ji-dit (rattly);

too-fritchyoo-fritchyoo-fritchyoo-

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

t-t-t-t-t-t-t  (soft; rapid; excited)

Ruffed Grouse

drumming-thumping; accelerates into a whir

(structural body sound, like old Chevy truck

motor turning over , but will not start)

Rufous Hummingbird

zee-chuppity-chuppity (buzzy)

Rusty Blackbird

check

ksh-a-leeee (rusty-squeaky)

Sanderling

plik-plik-plik

Sandhill Crane

garoo-a-a-a (stuttery)

Savannah Sparrow

zit-zit-zit-zeeee-zaaay (burry-raspy)

Say’s Phoebe

pi-weer or pee-eee!

Scaled Quail

Paark! Pe-cos; Pe-cos; Pe-cos

Scarlet Tanager

cheer-up; cheer-a-lee; cheer-ee-o (song is burry; raspy)

chick-burrr (call; syllable rapidly trilled)

Scrub Jay

shaaaaack (drawn-out; grating);

zreeeeek

Seaside Sparrow

chup-chup-tzeeee

Sedge Wren

chip; chip or chip; chip; chrrrrr-rrr

Semipalmated Plover

chureee!

churrrk (burry)

Sharp-tailed Sparrow

tee-shaay (raspy)

Short-billed Dowitcher

tu-tu-tu (in flight – may be repeated)

Solitary Sandpiper

peet-weet-weet or peet

Solitary Vireo

chu-whee; cheer-ee-oh

Come here Jimmy quickly

Song Sparrow

Maids-maids-maids-put-on-your-tea-kettle-ettle-ettle;

Hip; hip; hip hurrah boys; spring is here!

Madge; Madge; Madge pick beetles off; the water’s hot

Sora

ker-wee   ker-wee(descending whinny)

Spotted Sandpiper

peet-peet-peet-peet

weet-weet-weet-weet

Spotted Towhee

drink-your-tea-ee-ee-ee-ee

(or simply “drink”)

Sprague’s Pipit

ching-a-ring-a-ring-a-ring-a-ring-a-ring-a  (descending)

Starling

wolf-whistle (breathy)

Steller’s Jay

shaaaaack (drawn-out; grating)

shook-shook-shook-shook-shook

Summer Tanager

cheer-up; cheer-a-lee (bouncy – musical)

Summer Tanager

piky-tucky-tuck or pik-a-tuck

Swainson’s Hawk

kreeeeeeeeeerr (drawn-out; shrill; plaintive)

Swainson’s Thrush

rurrip; rurrip   whit; whit

Swainson’s Warbler

whee; whee; whee whip-poor-will

Swamp Sparrow

chipping trill (slower; staccato; individual notes can almost

be counted in comparison to faster trill of Chipping Sparrow)

Tennessee Warbler

tika-tika-tika; swee-swee-swee; chay-chay-chay

Tufted Titmouse

cheeva; cheeva; cheeva fer-da; fer-da; fer-da

here; here; here peter-peter-peter-

Tundra Swan

woo-ho and woo-woo

Upland Sandpiper

ch-wut wolf-whistle (long; drawn-out)

Varied Thrush

chyup

Veery

veer-veer-veer-veer- (ethereal; downward spiral; like

pinball machine that goes “tilt”)

Vesper Sparrow

like Song Sparrow; but lower; more guttural

Listen to my evening sing-ing-ing-ing

here-here; where-where; all-together-down-the-hill

Virginia Rail

ki-dik; ki-dik; ki-dik

tic-tic-mcgreer

Warbling Vireo

warbled phrases (complicated)

If I sees you; I will seize you; and I’ll squeeze you till you squirt (to a caterpillar)

brigadier; brigadier; briga-tee

Western Bluebird

few (sofly)

Western Grebe

krik-krik

Western Kingbird

kit

Western Kingbird

whit; whit; whit

Western Meadowlark

hip! hip! hurrah! boys; three cheers!

(flute-like; 7-10 gurgling notes)

Western Screech-Owl

accelerating hollow whistles; constant pitch

Western Tanager

pri-di-dik

Western Towhee

chup-chup-zeeee!

Western Wood Pewee

peeer (burry)

Whimbrel

ti-ti-ti-ti-ti-ti (clear; 5-7; rapid pace)

whistled notes – clear; 5-7; rapid pace

Whippoorwill

whip-poor-will (repeated) or “purple rib”

White-breasted Nuthatch

anh-anh-anh-anh- (nasally);

tooy-tooy-tooy-tooy;

wee-wee-wee-wee-who-who-who-who-

White-crowned Sparrow

more; more; more cheezies; please pink (loudly)

tseeeep (thin)

White-eyed Vireo

chick; per-wee-tee-o; chick or chick-per-wee-o;

(Quick give me a rain check……or

Spit and see if I care; spit!

White-throated Sparrow

O Sweet Canada; Canada; Canada…..or Old Sam Pea-

body, Peabody, Peabody (O-san-pibbity-pibbity-pibbity)

White-throated Swift

je-je-je-je-je-je-je- (shrill; excited)

Whooping Crane

ker-laa; ker-laa (second note higher-pitched)

Wild Turkey

gobble-gobble-gobble-

Willet

pill-will-willet

Willow Flycatcher

fitz-bew (burry)

Wilson’s Warbler

chee-chee-chee; chet-chet-chet-chet (trill-like)

Winter Wren

varied frequency/pitch shifts; complicated;

bubbly and busy and long

Wood Duck

jeeeeeeee!;

sliding (high-pitched) whistle

whoo-eek (breathy; whistley)

Wood Thrush

Songs: chk-chk-chk (dry-subtle);

ra-vi-o-li (flute-like);

ee-oh-lay (flute-like – last note trilly);

ra-vi-o-li (flute-like);

oo-duh-lay-oh or oodle-drrrr (last note trilly);

fweet-fweet-fweet (call: rapid-fire, liquid notes)

Worm-eating Warbler

trill (very rapid; even; mechanical and insect-like)

Yellow Rail

click click (typewriter-like)

tik-tik; tik-tik-tik; (2-3 rhythm; repeated)

Yellow Warbler

sweet, sweet, so sweet

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

chu-wee; chu-wee

killik

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

meeew (whiny; nasal)

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

hoo-luh; hoo-luh; hoo-luh (1/sec; broken);

ka-ka-ka-  kowp-kowp-kowp

Yellow-breasted Chat

whoit (whistled)

wit; wit; wit or chak; chak; chak (like N. Mockingbird or

Brown Thrasher)

Yellow-headed Blackbird

hoarse; raspy notes and phrases

Yellow-rumped Warbler

trill in two parts, 2nd higher or lower in pitch

trill (weak; unvaried)

Yellow-throated Vireo

three-Ay; three-Ay (short, more throaty, deeper than

Red-Eyed Vireo and not as incessant, continuous)

Yellow-throated Warbler

tsyoo-tsyoo-tsyoo-tsyoo-tswee

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