Quack, Quack! The Bird Calling Contest Is Back

Maya Hollingsworth, News Editor

For decades, students took to the stage every year adorned in feathers and homemade beaks in order to completely incarnate their bird, screeching and warbling in front of sold out crowds. After a four-year hiatus, Piedmont’s Bird Calling Show is back. 

PHS and MHS’s 54th Bird Calling Show will take place on March 30 in the new Alan Harvey Theater. 

“I’ve heard about what the bird calling show used to be, but it’s kind of a mystery for us who haven’t been at the school when the show has been put on,” senior Hailey Ronen said.

Show participants and perform an informative skit about a bird of their choice, and recreate their bird’s call. Judges score the performances and name the top three acts, according to teacher-librarian and show producer Katheryn Levenson. 

“My mom used to watch the David Letterman Show and watch the interviews [featuring the winners of previous Bird Calling Contests] all the time when I was younger,” freshman Chaz Amit-Guite said. 

District IT Specialist Jason Darling placed third in 1991 for his rap about the Northern Oriole bird. He said the event was very popular at the time and Piedmont was nationally known for the show.

“It was a packed [Alan Harvey Theater]. It was full and there were even people outside. People were really excited to come to the event,” Darling said.

Winners were then often invited to perform their calls on TV shows like the Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. 

“Back when we had the TV shows, people got incredibly competitive over it. And there was a lot of sort of political infighting or people being upset at who was finally chosen,” Levenson said. “It just got a little crazy.”

Maya Guzdar, the 2016 winner, was an audience member on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah in 2022. Guzdar asked Noah whether he would be interested in featuring the next winners of Piedmont’s Bird Calling Contest, and he unofficially agreed to do so. However, Noah’s show ended later the same year, without a chance for Piedmont’s bird callers to make an appearance, according to CNN.

According to Levenson, Communications Director Brian Killgore is currently in contact with various late night shows, but nothing has been confirmed yet.

Darling said he hopes the enthusiasm the event used to hold will come back. 

This year, the intention is to put on a show for the community. Supporting roles will be offered to students who want to participate in the show without being part of an act, according to Levenson.

“I’m trying a new thing in terms of having [supporting roles], like interns, shadowing and assisting the different adult community committee chairs,” Levenson said.

These supporting roles include Stage Managers, Director Interns, Public Relations Interns and more. 

“I’m excited to see all the acts come together like that,” Amit-Guite said.