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Nobody Here But Us Birds

Coo-coo! Coo-coo!

When a character in fiction makes an animal call, which is typically that of a bird. When used by a character makes a bird call, expect it to be for one of two purposes, neither of which are for animal reasons:
  1. As a signal.
  2. To pass it off as an animal.

Seldom played straight anymore, as it's very easy to use for humor; typically, it will be either be for parody (the caller definitely does not sound like a bird, but it works anyway) or deconstruction (the bird call is out of place for the time or location, and the position is given away).


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Used as a signal 

Film
  • Kung Pow!: One of Evil Betty's henchmen calling out in a bird noise. Betty himself calls out a second later with, "I'm just a birdie too!" This may also be Type 2.
  • In íThree Amigos!, Steve Martin's character calls in very badly done bird calls to get his co-stars' attention. Still, they assume it's a real bird. He eventually gets to "Lookuphere! Lookuphere! Lookuphere!" and finally resorts to just yelling, "Hey, you guys!"
  • Parodied in Galaxy Quest: Guy and Tommy stay behind to watch over the scene when the rest goes out to get fuel. The signal for something going wrong is a bird call, but, when they notice something really bad about to happen, they run out into the open screaming "Caw, Jason!" and frantically flailing their arms.
  • Played with in Desert Heat: Eddie Lomax and Johnny Sixtoes perform coyote calls to alert each other. The calls are very clearly recordings looped in, though.
  • In In Time, Phillipe Weis has a massive, bank-grade vault in his office. Contained within is a single capsule holding his collective personal wealth.

Literature
  • Lampshaded in Monstrous Regiment. Polly, who knows something about birds, is exasperated by her squadmates' incredibly unrealistic bird calls.
    • Similarly lampshaded in Going Postal. "Moist made a sound like an owl. Since he was no ornithologist, he did this by saying 'woo-woo.'"
  • Played straight in Frank Herbert's Dune. The Fremen use bird calls to communicate with each other: "Jessica heard... the distant bird calls that Stilgar had said were the signals of his watchmen."
    • ...Birds... on Arrakis?!
      • Presumably some variety of buzzard.
      • Perhaps you forget Paul's Freman name is Muad'Dib, which is a kangaroo mouse. Birds hunt mice. And a big scene takes place at a location called the Cave of the Birds.
  • Swallows and Amazons:
    "Now, I haven't seen your allies and I'd rather not, but just you tell them from me if you should happen to meet them, that if they want to give a signal right bang in the middle of the day, it wouldn't be so hard on their friends if they'd choose blackbirds or jays instead of owls. Your Aunt Maria wants to write to the Natural History Museum about it. She says she's never heard one at mid-day before."
  • Defied in A Song of Ice and Fire. A character is told to make a bird call if she needs help. Her reply:
    That's stupid. If I need help, I'll shout "Help".
    • Gendry tells Arya Stark to hoot like an owl when she's taken care of a sentry. She replies that she's a wolf (the sigil of House Stark) not an owl, so she'll howl instead. But after cutting the sentry's throat it's not her that howls, but a real wolf outside the castle. As Arya has the ability to bond with her direwolf which is roaming the Riverlands nearby with a large wolf pack, this may not be a coincidence.
  • In The Hobbit, Bilbo is sent to scout for danger, and told to hoot like a particular type of owl if he finds any. He's not given a chance to explain that he doesn't know how to, which becomes a problem when he does discover something.
  • The heroes in The Wheel of Time use a lot of bird calls as signals. Rand even makes a magic shield use a bird call as an alarm. They intentionally use ones out of place for the location to avoid getting confused by actual birds.
  • Is played for laughs in Baptism of Fire. Zoltan Chivay tells the gang he'll signal them by making a sparrowhawk's call. When they call him on not even knowing how a sparrowhawk sounds, he points out that if they hear a weird, unidentifiable noise, they'll know it's him.
  • Peter Pan's famous crow, often used as a signal to alert the Lost Boys to his presence. Additionally, the Indians use coyote cries as signals.
  • For Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, the signal is a cat cry. Huck's apparently so good at it that on one occasion a man started throwing rocks at him through a window.
  • Used in The Hunger Games as a signal between Katniss and Rue. In a play on this trope, the girls sing or whistle four particular notes — and then they rely on the mockingjays present in the arena to carry the song to where the other girl can hear it.
  • Spenser Chapman mentions in The Jungle is Neutral how he used English bird calls in the Malaysian jungle in WW2, as to Japanese soldiers it was just another strange jungle noise.

Live-Action TV
  • Happens in an iCarly episode where they have Freddy sneak into detention with them.
    Carly: (like a bird) Caw-caw!
    Freddy: (unconvincingly) Caw-caw...
    Carly: Do it like a bird!
  • Played for laughs on Stargate SG-1. A pair of bumbling scientists have decided to rescue the titular team, and one of them uses a bird call to attract their attention... on a spaceship.
    Jonas Quinn: Is that... a bird?
  • One episode of The Wonder Years has a group of middle school kids plotting to sneak alcohol from their house late at night and use this to signal when the alcohol is recovered. When the kid acquires the alcohol, everyone else repeats the call over and over in unison and inadvertently wakes up kid's parents.
  • Used in the Unnatural History episode, "Maximum Insecurity" to lure the Villain of the Week.
  • On an episode of Gomer Pyle USMC, Sgt. Carter tells Gomer to signal him by hooting like an owl. When the time comes, Gomer says "Hoody-hoo, Sergeant Carter! Hoody-Hoo!"
  • Done by Genre Savvy Abed in Community episode Modern Warfare.
    • Peirce also does this, to make people think birds are stealing Abed's food, not him. Except they're inside. And sitting right in front of him as he does it. They're all too stunned to do anything but stare.

Video Games
  • Thief II has Garret use a bird whistle in the first mission. It's used to get your NPC companion to start his run to rescue his lover.
  • Played straight in Star Wars: The Old Republic, where Republic players on Belsavis can be sent on a quest to find out how Rattataki convicts are repeatedly outmaneuvering Republic prison guards despite having no radios or other visible signals. One simple Escort Mission later, the survey droid reports that there are always an increase in avian calls before an ambush, and closer inspection with advanced sensors reveals the calls are outside the range of the local fauna, finally explaining how the Rattataki operate. Future patrols are then sent out with devices that detect those artificial calls.

Web Animation

Western Animation
  • Played straight in Avatar: The Last Airbender with Jet. When he's first introduced, he uses bird calls to communicate with the rest of his group.
  • Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles:
    (a Roughneck does a bird whistle to fool the Bugs)
    General Redwing: That's the worst bluejay I've ever heard.
    Private Higgins: The Bugs don't know that, General.
  • Robots: While infiltrating the Bigweld Ball, Rodney and Fender discuss using signals in case they're found out. Fender suggests a very loud "Ca-caw!" call, which he calls "the sound of the deep doo-doo bird".
  • In Monsters vs. Aliens, B.O.B. calls out the others when they are in Gallaxar's ship. Dr. Cockroach comes up from behind and Dope Slaps him to remind him that they're all already there.
  • In South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Christophe the mole instructs Stan and Kyle that if anything goes wrong, to make a sound like a dying giraffe. Played for laughs when they do have to make the sound later - and distract two guards who correctly identify the intended sound.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Peterotica", Peter and Carter team up to steal Lois' wallet. Peter distracts her by riding a unicycle while Carter pickpockets her, followed by him shouting "Caw-caw! I got her wallet!".

    Used to cover noise 

Abridged Series
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: "What's that?" (Krillin ducks behind a rock and starts shouting the word "quack".) "Oh, it's just a space duck. What a majestic creature."

Anime and Manga
  • In an early Rurouni Kenshin story arc, Kenshin and Sano are secretly following Yahiko to make sure he's safe. As he begins to twig on their presence, they try to pretend that they're just cicada. In the manga, at least, Yahiko's not convinced, as it's too early for those to be chirping.

Film
  • In one film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick, while hiding, makes an indignant shout, then covers it up by pretending to be a bird.
  • In one The Three Stooges short, the police are searching for a group of robbers. An officer hears some rustling from a nearby garbage can.
    Officer: Who's in there?
    Shemp: Just garbage! (Cue out-of-view Dope Slap)

Jokes
  • There's a joke about three blondes who escape from prison and hide from the pursuing police officers in three burlap sacks. The officers nudge the sacks in turn. The first blonde says, "Meow!" the second says, "Woof!" and the third says, "Potatoes!"
    • In another version of the joke, they're each hiding in a tree; the first one says "Meow," the second says "Tweet tweet," and the third says "Moooooo."
  • The Trope Namer might be this joke: A farmer wakes up at night from some noise coming from the chicken coop. Concerned that a fox or worse might be in there, he walks out and shouts: "Someone in there?" Answer: "Nobody here but us hens!"

Literature
  • A dog variant appears in the Discworld novels. Whenever Gaspode, a talking dog, lets something slip around humans, he usually says "Woof?" to cover it up. Some humans then notice that a dog should woof; it shouldn't say "woof."
  • Swallows and Amazons: They take advantage of Peggy's ability to imitate a duck quacking to successfully cover up when someone makes a giveaway splash during a Stealth-Based Mission at night.

Live-Action TV
  • Hilariously played with on El Chavo del ocho.
    Cleotilde: Who's there?
    Quico: Meoooow!
    Cleotilde: Ah, Satan, is that you? (Later...) Who's there?
    Chavo: Another cat!

Music
  • Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens, done as an Overly-Long Gag by novelty act Jump 'N the Saddle Band.

Radio
  • One of Frank Muir's stories on My Word involved him describing a Naked People Trapped Outside episode. During it, he attempted to conceal himself by crouching doown by the side of the road and making a sound like a small hawthorn bush.

Video Games
  • In a minigame in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, you have to follow a girl to watch what she does without her noticing you. If she hears you (if you run, for example) but you're out of her sight, Link will freeze and meow like a cat.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, when Mario spies on Grubba through the air vents, Grubba will hear the partner talk. The player has the option of choosing one of three possible sounds to make. Choosing 'burp' will make Grubba think there's 'burping beetles.'

Visual Novel
  • In the text-adventure Radical Dreamers, the guards catch our heroes hiding in the treasure vault. One suggests it's a cat ("Meow!" says the guile heroine) or a dog ("Woof!") or a heckran ([lengthy baffled pause] "Heck-eck-eck-eck-rraaaannnn"). They are discovered shortly thereafter.

Web Comics

NinjaInvisibility IndexRight Behind Me
The NicknamerComedy TropesNobody Here but Us Statues
90% of Your Brain Dead Horse TropeNon-Ironic Clown

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