Instrument-a-week (5): Bird Whistle

Posted by on Apr 6, 2014 in Instrument-a-week, Music, News


First version

Difficulty: 2 out of 5


  • square wooden batten, dimensions 1.5 cm x 1.5 cm or 2 cm x 2 cm
  • a piece of hard plastic, thickness 1-2 mm
  • plastic band for gift-wrapping
  • wood saw
  • scissors
  • strong adhesive


  1. Cut the wooden batten into into segments: one segment of 8 cm, two segments of 2 cm and one segment of 6 cm.
  2. Glue the two shortest segments to the ends of the longest segment so that the edges are carefully lined up.Instrumen-a-week (5): Bird Whistle Photo: Peter Kus
  3. Cut the hard plastic with scissors into short pads of dimensions 4 mm x 15 or 20 mm (depending on the dimensions of the batten, which you use). Glue the pads to the edges of the 6 cm long segment and to the angles of the longer segment.Instrumen-a-week (5): Bird Whistle Photo: Peter Kus
  4. Place the plastic band along the U-shaped structure, than place the middle segment on-top of it and push it into the opening. Stretch strongly the plastic band. Instrumen-a-week (5): Bird Whistle Photo: Peter KusFrom the side you can see that a thin slot is created in which the band is stretched.
  5. Blow intensely through the slot and the bird whistle will emit a “hooting” sound, similar to bird singing.Instrumen-a-week (5): Bird Whistle Photo: Peter Kus

Bird whistle works much like playing on a leave of grass, which is tensioned between the fingers and played. According to Sachs – Hornbostel system it can be classified among the group of interruptive free aerophonesband reed instruments, where the sound is produced by air flow which hits the sharp edge of a band under tension.

Similar whistling instrument, made ​​of two halves of a tree branch bands and from grass , corn bast, birch or cherry bark or paper, was once as a folk instrument in Slovenia. It was also used for hunting birds “on glue”. It attracted jays and other birds that flew in and sat on a branch that was previously spread with a layer of adhesive “bird glue “. This prevented the bird to fly away and thus enabled the hunter to catch it.

Second, simpler version

Difficulty 1 of 5


  • a stripe of paper, dimensions 3 cm x 16 cm (you can use plain office paper)
  • scissors


  1. Fold the paper stripe on half and then fold the two sides, 3 cm from each edge.
  2. In the center of the middle folder cut a small triangle .
  3. Insert the middle folder between the index and middle fingers so that the edges are pointing at each side at the bottom of your palm. Instrumen-a-week (5): Bird Whistle Photo: Peter Kus
  4. Gently squeeze the paper between the index and middle fingers, put your lips on the slot and blow intensively.  
© 2014 Peter Kus



(1) Membranophone
(2) Fruit-box Kalimba
(3) Moped
(4) Cardboard Tubophone
(6) Froggy
(7) Water Flute