Bird calling: the craze to sweep the state

If you know what’s cool, and I think I do, you know right now that bird calling is the latest thing. It’s what all the cool cats are doing. Back in about 1953, the Headmaster of Merimbula Public School, Jack Lynch, decided to start a bird calling competition. The idea took off. And that’s an understatement. Lynch’s decision was no doubt founded on the Gould League of Bird Lovers of NSW, which was formed in about 1910, that was started to try and avert the collection of bird’s eggs by young people. The Gould League became very popular among schools and young people throughout the state.

Click here to view the ABC Open video of the Merimbula bird callers.

Merimbula Public joined the state trend by having fortnightly meetings to record bird sightings and bird observations. They participated in bird hikes into the bush, and they installed bird feeders and baths in the school grounds. They also planted bird-friendly trees and plants around the school grounds. The trendiest of the trendies were loving the birds and the mania spread. Momentum built. If any kid could call a bird to come to them they received a medal. This was the holy grail of a bird caller’s career at Merimbula Public. But mainly, the initiative started to foster a love for birds and the natural environment. They each made a pledge not to harm any birds, especially refraining from collecting bird’s eggs.


“I hereby promise to protect all birds, except those that are noxious, and to refrain from the unnecessary collection of wild bird’s eggs.”

Merimbula Public School ended up winning the state trophy for six consecutive years. They were champions. There has been a recent resurgence in bird calling popularity, with many locals taking a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Local schools have all voiced their enthusiasm at getting bird calling competitions reintroduced and they are set to kick off at Bournda Environmental Education Centre in the near future.

A culmination of this resurgence can be seen in the current Bird Calling exhibition on display at the Merimbula Old School Museum. The exhibition opened on February 4, with a big turn up and a bevy of birdcall recordings, trophies and some demonstrations and appearances from Merimbula bird calling’s Hall of Fame members: Clive Stewart, Sandra Bray, Bruce Chapman, Noel Overend and Jill Lockerbie. There were also many other past students on standby to recollect and support the champions. So if you know what’s good for you, you’ll start searching for a whip bird, a bell bird or a magpie and you’ll start warbling away. This is a bandwagon to jump on, for sure…

Where: Merimbula Old School Museum Main St, Merimbula NSW 2548, (opposite the RSL club)

Contact: Shirley Bazley on 6495 9231.

Museum Opening Hours:

Note: The Museum can be opened at other times by arrangement.

Admission $5.00 for adults, children free.

Day Time
Sundays 1:30pm – 4:00pm
Tuesdays 1:30pm – 4:00pm
Thursdays 1:30pm – 4:00pm

Museum snaps

Photos all taken by Kate Liston-Mills

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