We all know that birds can sing. But did you know that some of them can also whistle? That’s right, there are certain birds out there that can make a sound that is eerily similar to a human whistle that will have you doing a double-take.
So, which birds make this unique sound? Here are 10 of them:
- Length: 5.9 to 7.5 in
- Weight: 0.92 oz (average)
- Wingspan: 9.1 in
- Distribution: Breeding in Canada, but winter in eastern and southern North America
The White-throated Sparrow is a small bird with a big talent for whistling. Its distinctive song sounds like “Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada!” and is often used in birding recordings.
The White-throated Sparrow is found in North America, and during the breeding season, its range extends from Alaska all the way to Newfoundland. In the winter, these birds can be found in southern North America as well as Mexico.
- Length: 8.1 to 11.0 in
- Weight: 1.4–2.0 oz
- Wingspan: 12–15 in
- Distribution: Maritime Canada, British Columbia, North America, Mexico
The Northern Mockingbird is another bird that is known for its ability to mimic the sounds of other birds (and even humans!). One of its most impressive tricks is sounding like it’s whistling.
This bird is about 10 inches in length with greyish-brown upper parts and white under parts. You’ll also notice long white wing bars and a long tail.
The Northern Mockingbird is found in southern North America, and its range extends from Texas all the way to Virginia.
- Length: 4.3–5.5 in
- Weight: 0.39–0.71 oz
- Wingspan: 7.5–8.7 in
- Distribution: North America, southern Canada, northern Mexico
The American Goldfinch is a beautiful little bird with a cheerful song that sounds like it’s saying “per-chick-o-ree.” But did you know that this song also includes a few quick notes that sound like whistling?
This bird has a yellow body with black wings and a black tail. The male also has a black cap on its head, while the female has a brownish-streaked cap. The American Goldfinch can be found in North America’s woodlands, fields, and gardens.
- Length: 9.3 to 12.0 in
- Weight: 2.2 to 3.1 oz
- Wingspan: 11 to 13 in
- Distribution: Eastern North America and Canada
The Brown Thrasher is a bird of many talents, one of which is whistling. Its song sounds like a series of trills and warbles, with a few notes that sound like sharp whistles.
This bird is brown with a reddish-brown breast and streaks on its belly. It also has a long tail that often fans out. The Brown Thrasher is found in eastern North America and Canada.
This bird gets its name from its brown plumage and thrashing foraging behavior. It is found in open woodlands, scrublands, and forests in eastern North America.
- Length: 4.9 to 5.5 in
- Weight: 0.63 to 0.81 oz
- Wingspan: 11 in
- Distribution: Eastern North America
The Carolina Wren is a tiny bird with a loud, distinctive song that includes several trills and warbles. But if you listen closely, you’ll also hear some notes that sound suspiciously like they were produced by a human whistle.
This bird has reddish-brown upper parts and a light buff under part. The Carolina Wren is found in southeastern North America, and its range extends from North Carolina all the way to Texas.
- Length: 6.8 to 9.1 in
- Weight: 1.1 to 1.9 oz
- Wingspan: 7.9–11.8 in
- Distribution: Eastern North America and southeast Canada
The Eastern Towhee is another small bird with a big voice, and its song includes several clear notes that sound like whistling.
This bird’s song sounds like “drink your tea, drink your tea” and is a common sound in forests throughout eastern North America.
The Eastern Towhee has black upperparts and reddish-brown underparts. This bird is found in forests, woodlands, and gardens in eastern North America.
- Length: 5 to 6 in
- Weight: 0.56 to 0.95 oz
- Wingspan: 8 to 10 in
- Distribution: North America and northern Mexico, breeding in southern Canada
The House Finch is a common backyard bird with a cheerful song that includes several short phrases, one of which always sounds like “cheerio, cheerio!”.
This bird has red upperparts and a brownish-streaked under part. The male also has a redhead, while the female has a brownish head. The House Finch is found in open woodlands, scrublands, and gardens throughout western North America.
- Length: 4.3 to 7.1 in
- Weight: 1.1 oz (average)
- Wingspan: 7.1 to 10.0 in
- Distribution: North America and Canada
The Song Sparrow is one of the most widespread birds in North America, and its melodies vary depending on where it’s found. However, all of them include at least one phrase that sounds an awful lot like human whistling.
The Song Sparrow is a very common bird, and you can find it almost anywhere in North America. It has a brownish-streaked upper body and a light-colored underpart. The male has a black head and throat, while the female has a brown head.
- Length: 5.5 to 6.3 in
- Weight: 0.6 to 0.9 oz
- Wingspan: 7.9 to 10.2 in
- Distribution: Eastern North America, Ontario, and Quebec
The Tufted Titmouse is another common backyard bird whose high-pitched song includes several clear notes that sound like human whistling.
In fact, this bird’s name comes from the tuft of feathers on its head, which makes it look like it’s wearing a tiny titmouse hat!
The Tufted Titmouse is found in woodlands, scrublands, and gardens throughout eastern North America. It has a gray upper body and a light-colored underpart. The male also has a black head, while the female has a gray head.
- Length: 6.7 to 7.5 in
- Weight: 0.71 to 1.19 oz
- Wingspan: 9.1 to 10.6 in
- Distribution: North America and Canada, winters in Mexico, and Central America
Last but not least, we have the Yellow-breasted Chat, which is actually more closely related to warblers than to true chats. This bird’s complicated song includes several clear notes that sound exactly like human whistling, making it one of the best examples on this list.
The Yellow-breasted Chat is the largest chat in North America, and it can be found in open woodlands, scrublands, and forests throughout eastern North America.
Do Birds Copy Whistles?
All birds have unique vocalizations that they use to communicate with other members of their species, but some birds are better at imitating sounds than others.
So, not all birds can copy whistles, but there certainly are some who can!
Can All Birds Whistle?
No, not all birds can whistle. In fact, most birds can’t whistle at all. Only a handful of bird species can produce clear, whistling sounds, and even fewer use these sounds regularly in their complex songs.
Do Birds Respond to Human Whistles?
Some birders have had success in attracting birds by whistling at them. It’s possible that birds mistake the sound of the human range of whistles for the call of another bird, but it’s also possible that they simply enjoy the sound of whistling and come to investigate.
Is There a Bird That Whistles at Night?
There are a few night-singing birds that include clear, whistling notes in their songs, but the Common Poorwill is the only one that is strictly nocturnal.
This bird can be found in open woodlands, scrublands, and deserts throughout western North America.
What Bird Makes a “Cat Call” Whistle?
There are a few different birds that make sounds that resemble the distinctive whistle of a cat call, but the most common one is probably the Northern Mockingbird.
This bird is found in woods, gardens, and urban areas throughout eastern and southern North America.
Who knew there were so many birds out there that could sound like they’re whistling? A whistle is a useful tool in many birds ‘ arsenal, and it’s fascinating to think about how and why they use it.
If you’re ever lucky enough to hear one of these birds whistling, take a moment to appreciate the beauty of nature and the surprising similarity between bird calls and the vocal range of humans.