Well howler 'bout that? These ten animals make sounds so distinctive their calls, growls, chirps and yowls became the names they're now known as.  

Cuckoo clocks



1) Cuckoo

European Cuckoo

When one flew over the cuckoo's nest, no doubt it made the “cuckoo” sound of a Black Forest carved clock striking the hour.

Cuckoo birds have garnered an unsavory reputation for laying their eggs in songbird nests, though in truth most species of cuckoo raise their own offspring in their own nests. That's just, er, not really cuckoo at all. (images via Josh More above and fortune cookie at top)    


2) Katydid

Steely Dan: Katy Lied album cover

Entomologists recognize over 6,400 species of katydid, a usually green grasshopper-like insect infamous for its loud and stridulating mating calls. The name “ka-ty-did”, however, is generally associated with the native North American species Pterophylla camellifolia, also known as the Common True Katydid.

Play Steely Dan's classic 1975 album “Katy Lied”, however, and the sounds you'll hear are sumptuous, serene and soothing – anything BUT strident. (image via Gordon Joly)      


3) Bobolink


Bobolinks are ground-nesting birds native to the northern United States and southern Canada. It's distinctive call was originally transcribed as “Bob o' Lincoln”, which evolved into “bobolink”.

Bobolinks prefer to nest in grassy open areas and hay fields, and habitat loss has affected their range and numbers. Fun fact: there were a lot more bobolinks back in the days when folks rode hay-eating horses instead of gas-guzzling cars. (image via Don Faulkner  


4) Croaker

Atlantic Croakers

Croakers are freshwater fish of the Sciaenidae family famed (and named) for the throbbing sounds they express through their swim bladders. In some areas of the USA, these fish are known as “drums” for the reason previously stated.

These fish use their “croaks” to attract mates and to broadcast their locations in murky waters – the latter practice often exploited by bottlenose dolphins who prey on them. (image via Virginia State Parks    


5) Killdeer


The killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) is a migratory North American plover that is most “vociferous” indeed! Killdeers mainly eat insects though they will opportunistically consume seeds, worms, snails, and small frogs... not deer, however.

Killdeer are attentive parents who may defend their nests and/or young with a so-called “broken-wing display”. (image via Jim Mullhaupt)                  


6) Dik-Dik


Dik-diks are smallish antelopes native to areas of eastern and southern Africa. While both the male and female of the species will whistle in shrill tones when alarmed, their name derives from “dik-dik” calls made only by the females.

Dik-diks eat plants and acquire all the water they need from their food, thus they rarely if ever drink from rivers or watering holes. (image via Don McCrady)                                 


7) Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

Bright wintry mornings are prime time for chickadees! You'll know them by their buzzy “fee-bee” chirps but don't alarm them: that's when their eponymous “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” trills out, and the more dee's on the end, the more they're alarmed.

Chickadees are known to be rather docile as wild birds go – stand outside with some seeds in your held-out hand and a chickadee just might pop by to gobble up the finger food. The seeds, that is, not your fingers. (image via David A Mitchell  


8) Pobblebonk


Want to impress an Aussie? Just insert “pobblebonk” into the conversation but be aware: the curious sing-song word refers to Limnodynastes dumerilii, a burrowing frog from southeastern Australia.

Pobblebonks are also known as “banjo frogs” as their call has been likened to a plucked banjo string. Steve Martin unavailable for comment. (image via teejaybee)     


9) Whip-poor-will

Eastern Whip-poor-will

Whip-poor-wills should be seen and not heard, though the opposite is the rule – these members of the Nightjar family of birds may be noisy but their effective camouflage makes viewing them difficult.

Also complicating things is the fact that whip-poor-wills are nocturnal insect-eaters who tend to sleep through the day-lit hours. (image via Tom Benson)


10) Zyzzyx

Zyzzyx Chilensis sand wasps

Nope, we're not making this up: Zyzzyx chilensis is a brightly-colored, medium-sized sand wasp named (in 1937) for the distinctive buzzing sound they make while flying.

Zyzzyx wasps are native to weatern regions of the South American continent ("chilensis" means "of Chile") where they prey mainly on flies but have been known to pursue skipper butterflies. The latter, no doubt, feel the need to “skip out” on their commitments as soon as they hear them coming. What WE can hear, is the sound (and name) of a new and very cool superhero. (image via Patricio Novoa Quezada)                    

All images in this article were originally posted at Flickr by the indicated photographer and each has been graciously made available under a Creative Commons international license.