Finding a great bird whistle for bird watching sure can be frustrating – and this comes from somebody who doesn’t mind sitting still for hours just to get a single moment’s glimpse of a bird!
Try searching the internet for “best bird calls” or “best bird whistles” and you will find pages and pages filled with all kinds of birds and their whistles – beautiful videos, pictures and recordings of beautiful birds, to be sure, but not really what we’re looking for!
What we want is the best bird whistle and bird call products – like the ones you put to your mouth and blow into – for bird watchers, so in this article we’ll look at the best bird calls and bird whistles on the market today.
If you’re anxious to get back to your bird blind, and don’t have time to read the whole article, here are my top two picks:
- Audubon Bird Call: The classic – hand made, hand tuned and capable of a huge range of sounds – and almost absurdly inexpensive.
- Acme Nightingale Whistle: A premium bird call meant especially to mimic nightingales, blackbirds, thrushes and the like, this beautiful original Acme whistle can do so much more!
Table of Contents
- Related Articles:
- How Does a Bird Whistle Work?
- What’s the Best Bird Whistle for Sale Today?
- The Best Bird Whistle and Bird Call Products for 2022
- Bonus Section: How to Use and Care For Your Whistle
- 7 Black And Yellow Birds To Look For In The US
- 7 Beautiful Purple Birds Around The World (With Pictures)
- 10 Fascinating Blue Colored Birds In The US (+ Photos)
How Does a Bird Whistle Work?
There are many ways to attract birds to your area, so that you can enjoy their activity and their song, get a good look or even take a beautiful photograph.
Using Your Mouth and Hands to Attract Birds
The oldest, and still probably the most common, way is by using your mouth and hands. Bird watchers will use all sorts of sounds and hand positions to either mimic and attract a specific bird or to make general bird sounds, which are also often quite effective in bringing curious birds closer.
The most popular methods of producing your own bird sounds include:
- Pishing – a general sound which can attract all kinds of birds, especially songbirds
- Cutting or Clucking – another general sound which can attract various kinds of birds
- Gobbling – for attracting turkeys, and a really fun sound to make!
- Owl Sounds – hooting and whistling, which can attract owls, but can actually scare away smaller birds
- Other Sounds – cooing like a dove, cawing like a crow, chit-cheet, whit-whit and lots of others
Many of these sounds are not meant to exactly mimic one particular bird, but instead to produce a general bird sound that might call lots of different birds to you.
This is obviously the cheapest method, and always at hand, so to speak, but will never produce the variety of clear, projected sounds you can get from a good bird whistle.
Using a Bird Whistle to Attract Birds
As with using your hands and mouth, bird call products or bird whistles may be meant to sound like a single bird, but more of the most popular choices among birders are meant instead to just make general bird sounds which can be effective in calling all kinds of birds in all kinds of places and situations.
Once you get the hang of a good bird whistle, you can make all kinds of different sounds, which can be used to target a particular bird or to better match the ecosystem you’re in, and even with non-specific whistles you can even get to the point that you can make a sound very close to the call or song of a single type of bird.
Using Recordings to Attract Birds
It seems like a smart and effective idea – using your phone or other device to play back a clear, accurate recording of a specific bird, in order to attract that bird for spotting or photographing, and even to elicit specific behavior – mating, hunting, aggression – from that bird.
But recordings are often considered harmful to birds and unethical, in how they are so exact and accurate and can genuinely convince a bird that there is danger, competition, food, mating opportunities or other factors that don’t actually exist – therefore stressing the bird, upsetting its cycles, drawing it away from more important activities and potentially exposing it to dangers.
What’s the Best Bird Whistle for Sale Today?[amazon table=”3444″]
Because of the potential issues with recordings, most bird watchers and photographers opt for the first two methods, and bird whistle products in particular are becoming more and more popular today – they require less practice and skill, can make a lot more clear and projected sound, and can also make a huge variety of sounds.
So I’ve put together a list of what I personally consider the best bird whistles and bird calls you can get. You might notice that this isn’t the longest list on record – in fact, there are only five different recommendations below – but this is for a very good reason.
You see, I noticed that other similar buyer’s guides have really included every single bird call or bird whistle available – and this means there are lots of inferior copies and duplicates included which are, in pretty much every case, not worth buying.
For example, there are so many copies of the Ederna Swiss Warbler, which don’t sound as good, don’t last as long and sometimes won’t even make the same range of calls – and yet, they are quite often just as expensive, or even cost more!
The same is true of each and every one of these products, and so in each case I have only recommended the original and/or the best example of that particular call or whistle – Audubon, Toyandona, Woodstock, Acme and Ederna.
I’ve not put this list in any particular order – just from least to most expensive – but I will offer a very short description of each one. They are all products I’ve tried and like a lot, and any one of them can really enhance your bird watching and make it a lot more successful!
The Best Bird Whistle and Bird Call Products for 2022
People have been making wooden bird calls probably as long as there have been people, birds and wood, so to call the Audobon one of the oldest bird calls is a bit silly.
Still, after 70 years of production it does feel like a classic, and is definitely one of the oldest and most popular bird call whistles you can get.
It’s also one of the best, a very effective and different kind of bird call, made of birchwood and lead-free metal. By twisting the metal core in various ways – speed, length, direction, strength – you can get a huge variety of different sounds, and with experimentation and a feeling for the area you’re in you can be hugely successful in attracting all kinds of birds.
Hand made and hand tuned, the Audubon Bird Call is a wonderful product – high quality, charming, very effective and remarkably inexpensive.
These ceramic bird whistles are often marketed as kid’s toys, but in fact they can be great tools for the avid bird watcher or nature photographer.
The Bird Warblers can be used in two ways, with or without water, which will produce a warbling or trilling sound or a more clear and loud sound respectively.
But really, with a little practice, you can begin to make all kinds of sounds with this pretty little whistle, and it is suitable for not only attracting many different kinds of birds, but for many different locations and seasons as well.
Nicely made of non-toxic ceramic, the Toyandona Water Bird Warbler is really inexpensive, highly effective and so much fun to use!
There are lots and lots of copies of this ingenious bird whistle, and even though they cost just as much as the original Edena Swiss Warbler, none of them sound nearly as good.
But the Ederna, which creates clear, loud and undistorted sounds, really shows how well this design can work.
By holding the Warbler in your mouth you can produce an absolutely astonishing range of bird sounds, and even get to the point where you can very accurately mimic a specific bird.
These are, unlike the previous bird call on our list, definitely not suitable for younger children, as they can be a real choking hazard, but for birders this is one of the best and most versatile bird whistles you can get, and highly recommended.
The world-famous Woodstock slide whistle, made in Chicago for a century now, is not a bird whistle or bird call per se, but instead a very high quality, metal whistle that many birders and bird photographs have been using to attract and mimic birds for decades.
With its sweet and clear sound, how clean and undistorted it sounds and how well it projects, as well as the ability to play a lot of different kinds of sounds – on a single note or sliding notes – with a little practice you can come very close to so many different bird calls.
Not as easy to master as some of my other recommendations, the Woodstock will definitely require some practice and some patience, but even right out of the box you can make such beautiful sounds, and right away begin to attract lots of different birds.
Beautifully made, and a great tradition, all Woodstock products are well worth the money, and their lovely slide whistle is far, far better made, better sounding and more effective than any of the cheaper copies, and a great thing for any birder to have.
Acme produces some of the finest whistles in the world, made in England for over 150 years.
And their nightingale whistle is one of their nicest products, beautifully made and very effective, and with a gorgeous sound.
It can be played with or without water, and even with water it produces either a straight or a trilling sound, and so while it is very good at calling nightingales, it can also be used to attract all kinds of birds – especially songbirds.
The above link will take you to the nightingale whistle, but on that page you can also choose their crow & rook call, their dove and pigeon call or their cuckoo call – all great whistles and premium products that you can buy with total confidence.
But for even more convenience, here are direct links some of the other wonderful Acme bird calls:
- Acme Dove and Pigeon Call
- Acme Skylark Call
- Acme Crow Call
- Acme Cuckoo Call
- Acme Quail Call
- Acme Song Whistle
Bonus Section: How to Use and Care For Your Whistle
Some of the items on my list of best bird sound whistles are pretty inexpensive, and none of them are that pricey, but nonetheless they are all excellent quality products, and if you take care of them they should serve you well for a long time.
This isn’t the place to get into any kind of tutorial on how to make bird sounds, with a whistle or with your hands and mouth, but to close I thought it might be useful to talk generally about how to best use – and take care of – your new whistle.
Try lots of techniques
There may be a “right way” to use a particular whistle, but there’s definitely not just one way! If you have a water whistle, try it both wet and dry, and with different amounts of water. For a normal whistle, you will find that different mouth and tongue positions, different amounts of air and force, different holding positions and even movement can make a big difference to the sound. Play around, and see who appears!
We don’t always want to mimic
There is a conception that bird whistles are best when they precisely copy the sound of a specific bird, but that’s not really how it works – at least for most birds. For one thing, you’d need dozens, hundreds, even thousands of different whistles! What we’re really doing most of the time, though, is using a single whistle to make a variety of sweet, attractive general bird sounds, which are always amazingly effective at bringing so many different kinds of birds.
Use the internet
But for those times when we really want a single bird to appear, a specific call may be just the thing. Happily, it seems that literally every single bird on the planet has a video these days, and it is easy to find pretty much any kind of bird and really hear and study its call – and with a whistle on hand, you can hear, copy, practice and perfect, and even record your own sounds to study.
Volume, and a soft touch
Take deep breaths, and don’t be afraid to push a lot of air into your whistle and make some noise. At the same time, remember that birds have excellent hearing, and may hear even faint calls from some distance. So, again, experimenting is the key, and different approaches will yield different results.
Always keep your whistle clean
A clean whistle will always sound and work better, and accumulated dirt and gunk can really compromise the sound, and can cause your whistle to corrode and even stop working.
Even a stainless steel whistle can start to oxidize with excess moisture, and any rust or mineral deposits from water can, like dirt and gunk, change the whistle’s sound and shorten its life. Make sure to dry it immediately after use, and never put it away wet.
It is not always a good idea to share whistles, or you should at least use some kind of sanitizing wipes before sharing. In-mouth whistles, for obvious reasons, should probably not be shared at all… Also, if you are outside, make sure your hands are clean before handling a whistle and placing it in your mouth.
Yes, exceptionally important and good advice for any bird watcher, and something we don’t always remember. But for calling, having a bottle of water on hand is even more important, since having a wet whistle will always make your whistle sound better.