Tracking Down That Mysterious Jungle Bird Sound Clip

 In the mid-90s, when I was about 9 years old, my favorite game in the whole world was The Amazon Trail. In fact, I've mentioned it before on this blog. In playing The Amazon Trail, I began to notice a distinct pattern -- there was a specific bird call that would repeat over and over in the game. This bird call entered my head almost a quarter of a century ago and never left. I soon began to hear the bird call in other games and in other forms of media. If a jungle or rainforest was depicted, that bird would be there -- even if the supposed location of the story was set far from the Amazon in Borneo or Australia. This bothered me -- it felt like many lazy game and film producers had looked up "jungle bird sound" and just inserted whatever noise they found, without researching the actual bird. This quandary, along with the sound itself, continued to plague me over the years but I only researched the bird minimally. I did, in fact, find a free sound clip that contained that exact bird call at one point -- it was titled something like "rainforest bird," but there was no reference to what exact species of bird was making the noise. Finally, recently, I decided that enough was enough. I would do whatever hefty research was necessary until I found the exact species of bird that made the sound and determined its habitat. After maybe about 45 minutes, I found it thanks to the wonders of YouTube. Here is a video I found:

The result was a little anti-climactic -- the species is called the "Screaming Piha" (a.k.a. Lipaugus vociferans) and it does, in fact, live only in South America -- it is not found naturally on any other continent, according to Wikipedia. It's a sort of boring looking brown bird, and is extremely common in rainforest regions of South America, such that it is even regularly found in parks and other human areas. Wikipedia also says, "The sound is frequently used in movies as a sound typical of the Amazon rainforest." Hmm. See the photo below:

A brown bird sitting on a tree branch.

I wish I had compiled a list over the years of all the games I found this bird sound in, but alas I had other things on my mind at the time, I guess. If I remember or encounter any of these games in the future, I may add a list to the bottom of this article. In the meantime, here is an example of the Screaming Piha found in the game Horizon: Zero Dawn, where it apparently expanded its range up into North America (the game is set in the distant future so this is actually not an impossible notion, considering many animals are currently changing their habitats due to climate change and population overcrowding).

Other Sources:
Birds of the World:

1 comment

  1. Thank you so much for this article! Like you, I grew up loving Amazon Trail, and I also had this bird sound imprinted on my brain. What reminded me of it was the show I'm currently watching, 'Death in Paradise.' Season 2 episode 4 uses this bird sound frequently, so apparently it has also spread to a fictitious island in the Caribbean.