There are a lot of birds in the Adirondacks that you can talk with, if you know their language.

      Some Adirondack bird-speak is commonly known, such as the language of the Mallard duck. Mallards pretty much have only one word, “quack.” Mallardese is quick and easy to learn for any novice bird linguist. You can talk with a Mallard just by saying quack, or quack, quack and so on, depending on what you want to say and how urgent it is.      

     Adirondack Crow talk is just as simple to learn as Adirondack Mallardese. Again, it is just one word, “caw.” So, like with Mallards, you can speak with Crows just by saying caw, or caw, caw, caw etcetera. One difficulty in speaking with Crows is that there are usually other Crows around, and it can get kind of confusing if they all speak at the same time. It’s murder. 

     Other Adirondack bird speak is not so common, mainly because it is spoken in the woods at night when most people are not around or are asleep. If you are out at night, and awake, then you might speak with the Adirondack Barred Owl if you know how to say “who cooks, who cooks for you, all,” but you have to say it with a southern drawl.  

    The Eastern Screech Owl is also a night bird. As its name implies, the Eastern Screech Owl’s language is “screee, screee, screeeech,” which is often spoken in staccato. The Adirondack Short Eared Owl is another night bird. It speaks with a decidedly Brooklyn accent,  “shrirl, shirl, shirilll.” Then there is the NightHawk whose sharp “wheet, wheetle, wheet,” is often confused with a tweet, but it is not a tweet.

     When an Adirondack Tom Turkey talks, he usually says “gobble, gobble, gobble.” But the funny thing is, if you want to speak with a Tom Turkey when he is on his roost, then you have to speak Barred Owl to him, “who cooks, who cooks for you all,” or you have to call to him with a loud crow caw or two. Then he may gobble in reply.

     When the Tom Turkey is off of his roost, however, you have to speak to him in a Hen Turkey yelp, which is a sound like a wooden striker circularly scratching on a slate friction pot, and it sounds something like this, “eeeyup, eeeyup, eeeyup.” If the Hen Turkey is anxiously amorous, she might speak in a more hurried, high pitched, roll of “eeeyupeeeupeeeeup.” When the Hen talks like that, the Tom Turkey struts and fans his tail feathers. 

     Those are some of the Adirondack birds that you may speak with when you are out and about in the Park.  There is also the very rare Shahanaha, a medium sized, pink, and blue bird with a gold crest that sings lullabies at night, but seldom makes conversation. The Shahanaha is only found in the Primitive Areas of the Adirondack Park, and only at night. Because the Shahanaha sings lullabies, you will be lulled to sleep before you have an opportunity to speak with it, even if you could learn its melodious language.

     Also in the Adirondack Primitive Areas is the great eagle, Wadzoosen, whose flapping wings cause the four winds. The Wadzoosen does not speak to those who adventure in the Primitive Areas, so there is no sense in trying to learn its language. However, beware of the “swoosh, swoosh, swoooosh,” of its wings, which produces the northwind, as it may bring a Derecho, and you must quickly find cover.

     Of all the Adirondack birds that you may learn to speak with, the Robin is probably the more common and loquacious. The Robin’s song is one that you may readily join in, even if you do not know the words. As noted by the aptly named lyricist, Robin Sellers, the Rocken Robin  tweets, and his song goes like this:

“Tweedle-lee-dee-dee-dee, tweedle-lee-dee-dee

Tweedle-lee-dee-dee-dee, tweedle-lee-dee-dee

Tweedle-lee-dee-dee-dee, tweedle-lee-dee-dee


     If you familiarize yourself with the Robin tweet, then you are not likely to mistake the Robin for a Nighthawk, or vice versa. They really are two completely different languages, not just different dialects.

     I won’t go over the honk of the Goose or the coo of the Turtle Dove. These are not difficult languages to learn on your own. But if you are not good at foreign languages, or if you otherwise find bird-speak difficult to learn, then you can always just whistle, “pheet, phrew, pheet, phreew” etcetera. Try it on your next hike in the Adirondacks. 

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