Texas is known for its large variety of birds, and the term snowbird is a direct reference to all the avian species that fly south to avoid cold months. Next time you're out on a hike, give a listen to your surroundings. You'll find you're surrounded by friends, even if you can't see them. Here are a few bird calls in particular that are easy to identify. This quick list focuses on year-round Texas birds you might run into.
You can also use a bird call flute, a whistle, or any noise to try to evoke a call out of any nearby birds. Birds aren't fooled by imitation calls, but they are curious and will often talk back. ("Sal, Check out this human pretending they're Katniss Everdeen.")
The Killdeer is a common plover bird that hangs around water. These birds have long legs, a white belly, and two black bands around their neck. Their call is easy to hear and almost as ominous as their amber-red ringed eyes. These vocal birds, much like a Pokemon, will sing variations of their own name – a slower "Kil-deer," or a rapid "Kill-dee-dee" when disturbed. Their voice is shrill, not melodic.
The Bewick's Wren is a small, chubby, brown bird with a tail that stands straight up and white eyeliner. Their voice has the vocal range of Freddie Mercury with variations of high and low. They hang out in small bushes and frequently yell in a harsh squawk. When they sing, their sound is high and fast.
Chickadees are always scouting for newly placed bird feeders. They are small passerine birds that wear a black hat. If you hear a cheery "Chicka-dee-dee-dee," you know who's calling. They also use "Fee-bee" in shorter calls, so hopefully you're not hiking with anyone named Phoebe, or they might get creeped out. The Black-Capped species of this bird is infamous for another call that will make you hungry. If you hear "Cheeeese-bur-ger," it's not your stomach, it's a Chickadee.
The Loggerhead Shrike is one of the most metal of all birds. While classified in the passerine family, they act like a bird of prey and are known for impaling grasshoppers on branches and barbed wire as a tool to hold it in place while they eat. They also have a very diverse vocabulary and carry seemingly full conversations depending on the situation. You're more likely to hear a "Schrgraaa" shriek if you've startled one, but if you're eavesdropping on a pair, you might hear males repeatedly asking "Wut." Females, in turn, are asking for food with a repetitive "Mak." Maybe she should talk to the Chickadee.
Congrats, you're now a birding person. Identify one of these birds out on a hike, and you'll quickly impress your friends. If you want to learn more cool stuff, check out the Olympus Auburn Lakes blog.