In 2002, Calvin M. Lester II created "Bird Call". The characters came to be through an odd array of various decorations in his grandmother's kitchen. Calvin explains, "My brother Cory and I were visiting my grandparents. It was raining and we were bored sitting indoors. I loved drawing so I got out my sketchbook and sat at the kitchen counter with Cory. I looked around the room for things to draw. One decoration hanging on the wall was a decorative saucer with two owls made of copper with black plastic outlining the eyes and divots where the feathers would be. I took various features of the owls and drew one wearing a suit with a snarled look on his face. Another piece of decor was a cookie-jar that was completely white with a chicken as the topper. So, I drew the chicken to be perceived as a male chicken sitting at a desk wearing a dress shirt, tie, and smoking a cigar."
Original bird call drawings
Calvin continues, "I decided to keep drawing more birds and just have fun with it. Each new character I drew seemed to have something unique about them. Francise was a dressed to be a workout coach (for some reason). Koo Foo was a happy go-lucky kind of bird. Then there was Luckl-Duckl Bird, the crazy squawking bird that was just "there". My brother helped name them and give them jobs. At that point I knew they needed somewhere to go, a place to live. Of course, their setting would be a bird house. But I didn't want an ordinary bird house, I wanted something that would be unpredictable and off in a way. That's when the bird house became a radio station to the birds. Instead of it being an ordinary bird house, I designed it to look like an old radio that had been gutted from the inside by the birds. Slowly a story came together and I would bounced ideas off my brother. We just looked at it as a fun way to spend time indoors."
Calvin left "the birds" in the sketchbook and continued working on another project he had been working on since 1995, "Flobby". He had created a puppet character named Flobby Red (pictured left) by using an old Christmas hat along with a crew of other characters he created: Trex, Flogger, Lucky Bunny, Yator Gator, Mouser Mouse, Joe, Lona, and Fuzzy Blue. But potential work in the entertainment business pulled Calvin away from his projects. A few years past and by 2005 Calvin had forgotten about "Bird Call". That same year, while at the JFK Airport in New York, Calvin found the sketchbook with the drawings of the birds in his bag. During his flight home to West Virginia he re-sketched the characters and constructed a more concrete storyline for "Bird Call".
In 2006, Calvin started working as a puppeteer for The Disney Company. He met performers Jason Rush and Jason Stanley (both would later become apart of "Bird Call" as performers and the Creative/Writing Team). Calvin talked about "Bird Call" to "The Jason's" and they were intrigued. He wasn't sure if "Bird Call" should be produced as a cartoon series or with puppets. The thought of the birds being able to live in the real world made the show more interesting. Other puppeteers came on board that year (Rachael Biehler, Billy Horne, and Sean McMurray) nearly completing the cast and finalizing the idea to do the show with puppets. The cast was complete in 2009 when Muppeteer Tyler Bunch agreed to come on board. Calvin and Tyler had met in New York while at "Sesame Street".
Since 2002, "Bird Call" has grown into a string of performances for charities, live shows, hospital visits for children, online entertainment, and much more. The cast and crew have dedicated a lot of time in helping develop "Bird Call". In 2014 and 2016 the cast performed a live two ACT musical titled "Bird Call the Musical". It was a chance to show a wider audience the concept, characters, and music. As for the future, the next move is to get an episodic series for "Bird Call" to television.
"Bird Call" Copyright © CML 5th Avenue Studios