Photos | 55th Annual Bird Calling Contest

Julie Reichle

Bird calling contest winners Cat Pasion, Clio Salzer, Charlotte Mascola, and Carmen Gaylord. MC Daniel Banin standing.

Fourteen groups of students vied for top honors at the sold-out 55th Annual Bird Calling Contest held in the Alan Harvey Theater on Friday, March 29. The contest, one of the high school’s most cherished traditions, features an evening of lighthearted, silly skits that combine scientific facts about birds with their signature calls. The event’s claim to fame was that contest winners were once invited on the Johnny Carson and David Letterman shows, a tradition that fell by the wayside in 2019 when Letterman retired. A combination of circumstances — the end of its national showcase, declining student interest, theater renovations, and COVID — led to its temporary demise before being re-introduced in 2023.

This year the judges awarded the top spot to the Ruddy Duck performers — Carmen Gaylord (’26), Charlotte Mascola (’24), Cat Pasion (’24), and Clio Salzer (’24). Mascola and Salzer won in 2023 for Thick-Billed Raven.

The Canada Goose Fight team (Theodore Ferguson ’26 and Chaz Amit-Guite ’26) gained a second place win. Three of Beth Black’s PHS English classes participated in the contest — her 4th period Junior English Honors was recognized in third place for their performance of a Ross Goose.

The judges panel consisted of PHS alums and past bird callers Yossi Fendl (class of ’91, four-time bird caller and 1991 winner with the Least Bittern), Auban Willats (PHS math teacher and PHS alumna and past bird calling participant) and celebrity judge Alex Hirsch (creator of the TV program Gravity Falls and the 2002 contest winner with Little Blue Heron).

At the judges table for the 55th annual Bird Calling Contest: Alex Hirsch, Yossi Fendl, and Auban Willats

Other groups included a Monty Python-esque tribute to the Cliff and Tree Swallows, a skit about UC Berkeley’s famous Peregrine Falcons, two different takes on Cooper’s Hawks, plus renditions of the Montezuma Quail, Common Loon, Zenaida Dove, Bonaparte’s Gull, Clark’s Nutcracker, Blakiston’s Fish Owl, and finally, the famous Eurasian Eagle Owl Flaco.

The groups re-convene on the stage for the award announcements.

PHS senior Daniel Banin served as the master of ceremonies and the PHS Troubadors provided the musical interlude while the judges conferred. PHS senior Kira Pan designed this year’s poster. Banin thanked PHS librarian and event organizer Kathryn Levenson for producing the show — her last, as she retires this year. The event concluded, as usual, with the Great Squawk — past bird caller alums in the audience are invited to join in for a final cacophonous call.

Event producer and PHS librarian Kathryn Levenson
PHS Troubadors provide musical interlude

Leave a Reply

The Exedra comments section is an essential part of the site. The goal of our comments policy is to help ensure it is a vibrant yet civil space. To participate, we ask that Exedra commenters please provide a first and last name. Please note that comments expressing congratulations or condolences may be published without full names. (View our full Comments Policy.)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *