Ever since Star Wars: A New Hope opened in theaters in 1977, there have been attempts to mimic the whistling, tweets, and mechanical vibrato of R2-D2. Many videos show people, instruments, and animals coming very close to sounding like the beloved astromech droid. One vocal performance, in particular, stands out.
It's hard to deny — This little bird sounds exactly like R2-D2.
The bird in question is a European starling, and these little creatures are known to be excellent mimics among the world's bird species. They can recreate pretty much any sound they hear, including a cat's meow, a dog's bark, or in this case, a droid's sound effects.
Named Jabber, the bird in the video has become something of a celebrity in some subreddits for its perfectly accurate vocal impressions. Known for showing off its mimicry skills in displays that range from singing classical music tunes and making R2-D2 sounds to repeating his owner u/omgmypony's sentences, Jabber is a talented little fellow.
Starling's superior mimicry skills
What's unique about this species of bird? The European starling, also known as the common starling, is a highly vocal bird. The singers are usually male, though female starlings are known to sing on some occasions.
In the wild, the birds are very chatty and make a lot of noise while roosting and bathing. While each bird has its own unique repertoire of songs, older males tend to have a larger repertoire featuring more extended, more complex compositions. And females tend to prefer mates with more complex songs.
The starling will usually sing its own song, often incorporating bits from other species' calls and various natural or human-made noises when singing. Some of these birds can learn how to mimic sounds in their environment after hearing them only once, while others may need repeated exposure to a specific sound to do so.
In the case of Jabber, his owner is probably a Star Wars fan, and the little bird has been hearing the famous droid's bleep and bloop-laden method of speech for some time.
While Jabber's vocal impressions make for a lovely watch, coming across starlings out in the woods and hearing them call out random sentences with perfectly accurate human intonation would undoubtedly be a spine-chilling experience.
R2-D2's voice was sound designer Ben Burtt's voice, mixed with an analog synthesizer and other effects.