Summers were usually busy on my parent’s small farm outside of East Enterprise, Indiana but I remember one summer afternoon when I was alone on the porch in front of our house. It was a hot, sticky afternoon and I think my parents and brothers had gone to town to get groceries. I stayed home—not sure why. I was probably 10 or 11 years old.
Sitting in an old iron lawn chair, in the distance, in the woods, I heard the call of a bobwhite—a northern bobwhite quail. Hearing that whistled “bob-white” was common back then when living in the country. I don’t hear it at all living in downtown Covington, Kentucky.
I could whistle pretty good when I was a kid and I could pretty much copy the sound that bobwhite was making. I answered his call. I kept this up for several minutes.
After those several minutes, I remember looking to the left on the porch. Shocked, there was the bobwhite. He was listening to my whistle and tracing where it was coming from.
When he saw it was just me doing the whistling, he didn’t fly away all that quickly. He stood there on the porch probably for a full minute before taking off.
I didn’t know it at the time, but unmated males usually do that whistling during breeding season. I guess I disappointed that male bobwhite.
I just tested by whistling to see if I could still do the “bob-white” call. I can—even at being 60-years-old. I hope none of my neighbors heard me. You’re right. I don’t really care.
Here’s a link to a YouTube video that willl show you what the call of a bobwhite sounds like, just in case you never heard it.
(Image from bobwhitesystems.com)