How do cuckoo clocks make that notorious cuckoo sound?

by | Jun 10, 2009 04:00 PM ET

You Asked

How do cuckoo clocks make that notorious cuckoo sound? --- Erik, Ede, Netherlands

Marshall Answered

A "modern" cuckoo clock does it with a sound chip and a speaker, but the traditional cuckoo clock does it with two whistles that have two different notes. In the following video you can see that the two whistles are pumped by two bellows:

When you hear the word "whistle", think of a train whistle, which traditionally has two or more pipes that blow simultaneously. Here is a toy train whistle with four pipes:

And one with six:

As you can see in this video, people have taken the whole "two whistles" idea in a number of different directions:

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