I’ve been reading Bernd Heinrich’s Summer World lately and was struck by his description of the song of the Red-winged Blackbird as “oog-la-ee.” For some reason I had thought that the universal representation of their song was “Honk-a-ree.” Being a bibliophile I had another bird book in reach, Pete Dunne’s Essential Field Guide Companion, and I checked his description and was surprised to come up with “tur-a-leee.” This clearly required more research!
What follows is a rundown of a dozen different authors’ take on the song of the Red-winged Blackbird. Please note that no one uses the exact transliteration that I thought was universal but one does come close.
Bernd Heinrich “oog-la-ee”
Pete Dunne “tur-a-leee”
Richard Crossley “get-me-teeee”
Roger Tory Peterson “konk-la-ree” or “o-ka-lay”
John Kieran “konkaree”
Kenn Kaufman “aawnk-ah-rrreeeeeeee”
Bill Thompson “conk-a-ree!”
Norman Arlott “ok-a-leee”
Bob Levy “konk-la-ree”
Herbert Job “conk-a-ree”
Calvin Simonds “Honkaree!” or “Belongs to meee!” – a subjective description as a bird was stealing his newly planted corn
David Sibley “kon-ka-reeeee”
What do you think Red-winged Blackbirds say?
To me it is something like, “onk-ah-reee!” Looks like mine is closest to Kaufman! Interesting because I learned birds by reading Sibley!
I hear ‘churrr-cha-reeee’…too funny!
Maybe it’s because I’m a film buff, but I always hear “rebels are weeeeee” as sung by Diane Keaton in Woody Allen’s “Bananas.”. It’s an extra syllable, but the notes she sings are a really good match.
Funny you should ask that question Corey since I posted on Red-winged Blackbirds in the following post and have a couple of videos with Red-winged Blackbirds singing! I think the say “Kor-a-leeee” maybe because I have a friend by that name?
My wife grew up calling the birds “Order Dee’s” because her family said they said “Order-deeee”.
Just put up a post today, “Waiting game,” that imagines what a Red-winged Blackbird is saying.
Our guy talks tough, and his words need no translation.
Thanks for your insights about this timely bird, and for your post above it, too, with great photos.
Mike at Two-Fisted Birdwatcher