This is an invitation to learn the song of an extinct species of bird and have it circulating further – a way to consider relating to past species.

Kauai-Oo is described as a very small bird of inconspicuous plumage and haunting, piercing songs. It lived in the forested canyons of Kauai Island, in an area just next to what is known to be the wettest place on Earth. It nested in the cavities of Ohia trees – a species that is the first to grow on recent lava flows. It was declared extinct three times – in 1940, in 1970 and in 1987.

Several species of birds are vocal learners – have the capacity of reproducing fragments of communication from other species. Recently, during a longer period of isolation, a particular group of grey parrots had been found to use fragments of human speech amongst themselves, as part of their own communication.

In an effort to find an appropriate attitude to relate to a species that no longer is (avoiding anthropocentric infatuation as much as possible), taking example from a kindred species seems to be a reasonable option. Therefore, this proposal quotes actual bird behavior – bringing a fragment of a Kauai-Oo song as communication amongst fellow humans, using the human capacity of accurately reproducing bird communication: whistling.

Basic whistling is rather easy but it can become far more elaborated as proven by whistling languages.
The few remaining whistling languages have perfected the practice of whistling through techniques of relating sound and sense which are still far from being fully understood. Its speakers are able to recognize entire sentences in acoustic signals - whistles - bearing considerably less information than human voice.

Whistling languages are mostly extensions of already existing languages where meaning is conveyed without the harmonics of the voice. Amongst others, this implies - also the case of tonal languages - an increased capacity to distinguish exact pitch (in order to pair pitch and letters). This is also shown by the effect of speaking tonal languages as a child – there is a higher probability for this category to attain perfect pitch.

When practicing whistling the Kauai-Oo song, keep in mind the following ways in which whistled speech was used throughout the last centuries in communities speaking whistling languages:

≡ communication between herders across the hills ≡
≡ sonic disguise - when hunting (animals don’t recognize whistling as human voice) ≡

Other facts to consider:

≡ this song bears meaning for no species at the moment ≡

≡ the species has been found again after having been declared extinct twice ≡
≡ unacknowledged species will hear it as well ≡

Instructions continue as mnemonic video tools (they contain iterations of the song as soundtrack) and come in two colors: literal and abstract. Choose what works best for you.

Take whistling as far as you feel like considering the above.