Tradition continues with annual bird calling competition at Piedmont High School

PIEDMONT, Calif. (KTVU) - It is a 50 year old tradition at Piedmont High School in the East Bay. The annual bird calling contest featuring students took place Friday night.

Students tell KTVU it's all about keeping a longstanding tradition alive. It's the pride of Piedmont calling as students , ranging from freshmen to seniors, crowed, cawed and whistled.

"It's so weird, wacky and unique and that put Piedmont on the map," said juniors Tyler Ellis and Maret Sotkiewicz who performed the call of the Pacific Loon.

Joseph Chan, a senior, is following in the footsteps of a parent who won 30 years ago. He emulated the call of a cardinal, telling KTVU that it was the same whistle that put his father into first place in 1985 and an appearance on the Johnny Carson Show.

The teams are judged on style of presentation, poise and delivery , and authenticity of the bird call.

Nine teams competed before a sold-out crowd of more than 400 who packed into the auditorium.

The organizer says tickets sold out in just five hours.

The top three teams will fly to New York to appear on a late night talk show. But students say it's not the prize that matters. "If you go to Piedmont High , we think you should do it at least once in your high school career, " said Ellis.

Students say it's the spirit of the competition that's important.

"This is what Piedmont is about. We wanted to be part of what this town is known for ," said Kay Sibal, a freshman.

First place went to juniors who performed the call of the Pacific loon, 16-year-old Tyler Ellis and 17-year-old Maret Sotkiewicz.

The top three teams fly to New York on Monday.