Everyone's favorite little droid R2-D2 is making a comeback today in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (yay). Behind the scenes, the beloved droid's sounds are made by sound-mixing some baby gurgling into an adorable robotic voice, sound designer Ben Burtt has said. But here at Audubon, we think that there are plenty of avian candidates who could have been used as inspiration (hey, it's not that far of a stretch—birds were the voice actors behind many of the dinosaur sounds in Jurassic World).
Check out these five aspiring avian robots—you may start to wonder if these birds have been binging on old Star Wars films, too.
The Australian Magpie
It’s a car alarm; it’s a barking dog; it’s R2-D2! Nope, it’s actually an Australian Magpie. This eclectic songbird uses a variety of complex calls, and can mimic over 35 species of birds, as well as other animals, including dogs and horses.
The Gray Catbird
This common yard bird might be light years away from “droidom” (the droid equivalent of stardom), but with its squeaky sequences it definitely has some R2 qualities. These birds can belt it out for 10 minutes at a time, and males use their high-pitched mew to mark their territory.
The Australian Lyrebird
The magpie’s partner in mime, the Australian Lyrebird, is also quite the performer and can copy practically any sound it comes across, from camera shutters to chainsaws. It can imitate up to 20 other species so perfectly that even the birds being copied are fooled. These long-tailed artists use their vocal talents mostly for courtship, but their skills also double as an R2-D2 tribute—with a few lightsabers thrown in for effect.
This songbird’s melody is almost as strange as its name and its mohawk. The Bobolink can make a series of gurgling and bubbling noises that share a close resemblance to the feisty little robot from Naboo. These funny calls are used to entice the ladies during showdowns between breeding males (yes, mating is the point of most bird songs).
Bluey, the Australian Parakeet
Okay, this bird was actually trained in the ways of R2-D2. Videos of Bluey, the pet Australian parakeet, first hit the internet in 2013. The bird’s owner played some classic R2 sounds on YouTube, and a few days later, Bluey was boo-boo-beep-beeping along. The blue-chested, white-headed bird also kind of looks like the droid, so he's suited up for Hollywood already.