Let’s dissect which bird species can be heard screaming in the backing track of “Out of My Head” by Charli XCX

Fellow pop music enthusiasts, I love birds, like a LOT. I photograph them and record them with embarrassingly-long microphones.

The first time I listened to Out of My Head by Charli XCX my bird senses lit up as I picked up on a bird screaming in the backing track. It might sound like noise to most, but I was SURE it was a certain local bird I heard all the time when birding.

Bird Shazam!?

So what’s a birdwatcher Charli stan supposed to do in this conundrum? Leverage an amazing “bird Shazam” app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, called BirdNET, of course!

BirdNET (and the Merlin app) can ID thousands of birds through audio by translating those audio clips into visual representations called “spectrograms” and uses machine learning models to analyze for species.

This mystery bird can be heard beginning at 1:05 and continues throughout the song with its final call appearing in the final second of the song at 3:54.

The two highlight sections are the mystery bird call. I repeated the final portion of the song twice at different volumes to get an adequate recording for analysis.

The final bird call was easiest to analyze since it was isolated from any background sounds.

Time to analyze

I ran it through my BirdNET app and my guess was confirmed!


The Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) is a flamboyant bird with a long tail and shiny, black feathers (on the males).

Many birders consider it a trash bird, but I love it. I may often see flocks of nearly a thousand in H-E-B parking lots, but they are still special to me.

And clearly special enough for Charli to choose to include them in Out of My Head.

The Great-tailed Grackle seen behind me has finally made it.

1 thought on “Let’s dissect which bird species can be heard screaming in the backing track of “Out of My Head” by Charli XCX”

  1. I am so impressed with this idea! I’ve been to the Cornell Ornithology lab and toured their lab where they analyze and store bird call recordings. But yours is a very nice example of a creative citizen scientist. Bravo!


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