To Playback or Not to Playback

Jamie Acker biowler1 at
Sat Mar 16 18:47:31 PST 2002

For what my experience with tapes/calls is worth....
I believe a part of the input process that should go into the decision as
to whether or not to use tapes or human emitted calls, is whether or not
the expected result will have a detrimental effect on the individual
bird. The Tweeters responses I have seen to date have noted this, and I
agree with them for the most part. Bear in mind that there is no
difference to the bird if the call is from a tape/CD/minidisk or a human
imitation. The purpose of each is to get a vocal and possible visual of
the target species. So while tapes, etc are banned in National Parks,
etc, the human emmited calls (ie Boreal Owl calls at Sunrise) are legal.
This doesn't make sense to me...

I have been using Barred Owl and Western Screech-owl tapes on Bainbridge
Island for the past eight years as I study their populations. I have used
the same tape for that time period. I can toot a fair Northern Saw-whet
and Northern Pygmy Owl. I owl the Island about every weekend from
October through March. I make it a point not to harass the same birds
two weeks running. I do not spend more than 15 minutes at a stop (unless
I am with a group like Kitsap Audubon).

I can honestly say that I don't believe my use of tapes/calls has had a
negative impact on the owls. The Barred Owl population has gone from one
bird in 1992 to 26+ birds last year. As one Tweeter noted though, the
Western Screech-Owl population has plummeted. I also believe it is due
to the Barred Owl invasion. I make it a point to play a Barred Owl call
in locations that I have played a Western Screech-Owl call just to alert
any WESO's that there may be BDOWs in the area. (On several occassions,
I have had WESO's respond to the BDOW call rather than to their own...)

Jamie Acker
Bainbridge Island,WA
Biowler1 at

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