Bird Song Mnemonics

Learning to identify birds by their songs and call notes is perhaps one of the most important aspects of birding. After all, ninety percent of birding is what you hear. Learning birds’ voices can extend your awareness and knowledge of the bird life in your world. You will always know what birds are around even without looking. This comes in handy when a habitat is not accessible to you or especially when you are talking with someone and it would be rude to be scanning the treetops (Of course, you could do both)!

While we learn the songs’ rhythm, quality, pitch and tempo, it is often easier for many people to memorize catchy phrases that describe these components. These words or phrases are called mnemonics—gimmicks that help us memorize something.  Below you will find a list of some of the mnemonics and phonetics that are widely used by birders. Many of these can be found in field guides, online or CDs. Use them, change them, or create your own. In many cases, you will need a good imagination to appreciate them.


"jay" -- Blue Jay
“caw” -- American Crow
"feebee feebay, chick'adee-dee-dee" - Carolina Chickadee
"feebee" - Black-Capped Chickadee
"peter, peter, peter" - Tufted Titmouse
"yank yank" - White-Breasted Nuthatch
squeaky toy noises - Brown-Headed Nuthatch
"teakettle, teakettle, teakettle" - Carolina Wren
phrases repeated 3 or more times - Mockingbird
phrases repeated 2 times - Brown Thrasher
"cheerup, cheerily, cheerily" - American Robin
"cheer, cheerful, charmer" - Eastern Bluebird
"spee spee" - Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
"look-up, over-here, see-me, up-here" - Red-eyed Vireo
same as red-eyed but buzzier - Yellow-Throated Vireo
same as red-eyed but slower, sour - Solitary Vireo
"what-cheer', what-cheer', what-cheer'" - Northern Cardinal
"drink-your-teeee'" - Eastern Towhee
"poor Sam Pea'body, Pea'body, Pea'body" - White-Throated Sparrow
--"per-chik'-o-ree", "babeee'" - American Goldfinch


"creep, creep" - Great Crested
"fee'-be" - Eastern Phoebe
"peet'-suh" - Acadian
"fee-bee'o" - Alder
"fitz'-bew" - Willow
"che-bek'" - Least
"pee-oo-wee" - Eastern Wood Pewee


"wheezy, wheezy, wheezy" - Black-and-White
"deeta deeta-whip'-poor-will" - Swainson's
insect-like, dry trill - Worm-Eating
"bzz- bzz, bzz, bzz" - Golden-Winged
"bzz-bzz" - Blue-Winged
"zeeeee-up'" - Parula
"sweet sweet sweet, I'm so sweet" - Yellow
"wheet-wheet'eo" - Magnolia
"zay zay zay zoo zee" - Black-Throated-Green
"I am lazeee" - Black-Throated Blue
"please, please, please to meet'cha" - Chestnut-Sided
"teach teach teach teach" - Ovenbird
"toree' toree' toree'" - Kentucky
"wheeta wheeta wheet'eo" - Hooded
Please please pleased to meet'cha” - Chestnut-sided Warbler


Bee-buzz--Blue-winged Warbler
Bee-buzz-buzz or Bee-buzz-buzz-buzz--Golden-winged Warbler
Beeer--Common Nighthawk
I am lazeee or beer beer beer beeee--Black-throated Blue Warbler
Che-bek--Least Flycatcher
Chink--Blue Grosbeak
Chup-chup TZEeeee---Seaside Sparrow
Cu-cu-cu--Black-billed Cuckoo
Fee-bee-o--Alder Flycatcher
Fitz-bew--Willow Flycatcher
Hip-hip-hurrah--King Rail
Jeeee---Wood Duck
Ka ka ka...kowp kowp kowp--Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Keeeeer--Common Tern and Forster's Tern
Kid-ik, kid-ik, kid-ik--Virginia Rail
Kip...kip--Common Moorhen
Peent--Common Nighthawk
Peet-suh--Acadian Flycatcher
Peet-weet--Spotted Sandpiper
Quick, three beers--Olive-sided Flycatcher
Scaipe--Common Snipe
See-bit see-bit see-bit, see-see-see-see--Nashville Warbler
See-see-see-sisi-see--Brown Creeper
Speee  speee--Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Tee-shaay--Sharp-tailed Sparrow
Tee-si, tee-si, tee-si--Bay-breasted Warbler
Tic-tic, tic-tic-tic--Yellow Rail
Tika, tika, tika-swee, swee, swee-chay, chay, chay--Tennessee Warbler
Vee-a--Gray-cheeked Thrush
Weeta-weeta-weeteo--Magnolia Warbler
Weet-weet-weet-weet--Spotted Sandpiper
Whit, whit--Swainson's Thrush
Zweet-zweet-zweet--Prothonotary Warbler
Yank, yank, yank--White-breasted Nuthatch
A-weet, a-weet, a-weet-teo--Hooded Warbler
Bob white, bob white--Northern Bobwhite
Bubble, bubble, zee--Brown-headed Cowbird
Caw, caw, caw--American Crow
What-cheer, what-cheer, what-cheer, or cheer, cheer, cheer--Northern Cardinal
Cheerily, cheer-up, cheerily--American Robin
Chick-a-dee-dee-dee--Carolina Chickadee
Chip-burr--Scarlet Tanager
Chick-per-a-weeo-chick or chick-per-a-weeo--White-eyed Vireo
Chink--Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Chiva, chiva, chiva or Peter, peter, peter--Tufted Titmouse
Churr, churr, churr--Red-bellied Woodpecker
Chur-ry, chur-ry, chur-ry--Kentucky Warbler
Chur-wee or Cheer, cheerful charmer--Eastern Bluebird
Conquereee--Red-winged Blackbird
Drink-your-teeeee--Rufous-sided Towhee
Dtzee, dtzee, dtzeet--Eastern Kingbird
Ee-o-lay--Wood Thrush
Fee-bee, or Fee-blee--Eastern Phoebe
Fee-bee fee-bay--Carolina Chickadee
Here, here, here--Tufted Titmouse
Here I am, over here, see me, where are you--Red-eyed Vireo
Jay, jay, jay--Blue Jay
Keeeeeer--Red-tailed Hawk
Kee-yer, kee-yer, kee-yer--Red-shouldered Hawk
Kik, kik, kik--Pileated Woodpecker
Kill-dee, kill-dee, kill-dee--Killdeer
Kleeyer--Northern Flicker
Who cooks for you, who cooks for you'all--Barred Owl
Maids, maids, maids, put on your tea, kettle, kettle, kettle--Song Sparrow
Meeoow--Gray Catbird
Poor Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody--White-throated Sparrow
Pee-a-wee or pee-ee--Eastern Wood-Pewee
Peeeeeeeeee--Broad-winged Hawk
Peent, peent, peent--American Woodcock
Peet-suh--Acadian Flycatcher
Perchickaree or Babeee--American Goldfinch
Chicki-tuki-tuck--Summer Tanager
Plink, plink--Bobolink
Wheep, wheep--Great Crested Flycatcher
Purty, purty, purty--Northern Cardinal
Queedle, queedle, queedle---Blue Jay
Queer, queer--Red-headed Woodpecker
Skeeow--Green Heron
Spring of the year--Eastern Meadowlark
Sweet, sweet, sweet, I'm so sweet--Yellow Warbler
Teacher, teacher, teacher--Ovenbird
Tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle--Carolina Wren
Three-a, three-a--Yellow-throated Vireo
Tow-weeee--Eastern Towhee
Tseer, tseer--Red-winged Blackbird
Tzee, tzee, tzee, tzeeo--American Redstart
Weesa, weesa, weesa--Black-and-white Warbler
Wheer--Orchard Oriole
Are you awake? me too--Great Horned Owl
Wicka, wicka, wicka--Northern Flicker
Witchety, witchety, witchety--Common Yellowthroat
Trees, trees, murmuring trees, or Zay, zay, zay, zoo, zee--Black-throatedGreen Warbler
Zeee, zeee--Cedar Waxwing
Zree--House Finch
Zeeeee-up--Northern Parula

List compiled by:
Georgann Schmalz
Atlanta, Ga.