Bird Calling is the Newest Competition Down Under

Bird calling is helping children connect to nature.

New Holland Honeyeater.

(Miriama Taneckova /

Move over soccer, basketball, and football, there’s a new competition sweeping Australia. It’s competitive bird calling. Yes, bird calling!

Dozens of kids in New South Wales are spending their leisure time squeaking and squawking,  reports RNZ. They are practicing for the Bournda Bird Olympics, an event that pits young bird-callers against each other to see who can deliver the clearest, most enthusiastic, and most accurate bird call.

The principal of the Bournda Environmental Education Centre, Doug Reckord, encourages the kids to listen to bird calls on YouTube to prepare for the event. The children also work on identifying birds by their beaks, claws, and calls. 

A historical contest revitalized
Surprisingly, the Bournda Bird Olympics isn’t Australia’s first rodeo with competitive bird calling. According to The first competition took place in Sydney in 1912. It was sponsored by the Gould League of Bird Lovers, a foundation that encouraged children to bird watch and learn about birds.

Even back then, New South Wales emerged as the country’s bird calling leader. Students from the New South Wales region had access to many more bird sounds than city kids; they won the Dawson Memorial Shield for best bird calling six times between 1953 and 1962.

Today, New South Wales is bringing back the bird calls. Led by the Bournda Environmental Education Centre, the Bournda Bird Olympics started anew in 2018. The event now features former bird calling champion, Bruce Chapman, as the “celebrity” judge.

The Bournda Bird Olympics
When showtime finally arrives, three judges at the Bournda Bird Olympics rate participants on their enthusiasm, accuracy, and clarity. The contestants can earn a maximum of three points in each category. “I think all of them would have got three out of three for enthusiasm,” Chapman told

Some 45 children participated in the 2022 event. According to RNZ, the most popular bird call to imitate was the kookaburra’s unique chuckle. But the winner that year came from a girl copying a king parrot. Her call sounded so accurate that a king parrot in the trees actually called back to her. Chapman said, “We thought that's a pretty convincing endorsement of the accuracy of her call when she got a response from an actual bird.”

The olympics

The Bournda Bird Olympics has been successful thus far at letting children educate themselves in a fun and exciting way. It’s more than a contest, it’s a hoot.

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