[Tweeters] Re: Using Recorded Bird Vocalizations in the Field (was: iPODs)

Mechejmch mechejmch at aol.com
Sat Nov 27 05:01:43 PST 2010

Joe Meche clearly does not seem to understand the value of using recorded bird vocalizations in the field.

What I really don't understand is why you would turn this discussion around to surmise that I don't "understand the value of using bird vocalizations in the field." I would have thought better of you, but life is filled with surprises!
You're missing the point that I initially raised, and you've even changed the subject line to suit your needs. We all know you're "a professional ornithologist with decades of experience," but come on!

Thanks a lot Wayne!

Joe Meche

-----Original Message-----
From: Wayne Weber <contopus at telus.net>
To: TWEETERS <tweeters at u.washington.edu>; JOE MECHE <mechejmch at aol.com>
Sent: Fri, Nov 26, 2010 9:45 pm
Subject: Using Recorded Bird Vocalizations in the Field (was: iPODs)


Joe Meche clearly does not seem to understand the value of using recorded bird vocalizations in the field.

Having a library of recorded bird songs and calls with you is about the same as having a field guide with you (as opposed to leaving it at home). It is an invaluable aid to identification for birds which cannot be seen, or those which can be seen but are still hard to identify except by calls (e.g. Tropical Kingbird!!). This does NOT mean that you have to broadcast the calls to attract the bird in for a closer look, which is usually not necessary. At the same time, I would rather have a regular speaker as opposed to those infernal ear buds which so many people use with iPODs, which can easily damage your hearing if you are not careful.

At the same time, as a professional ornithologist with decades of experience, I can assure birders that, in most cases, judicious use of recorded songs and calls to attract birds into view causes minimal disturbance to most bird species—at least, no more disturbance than is often caused by photographers trying to get a “closer” photo. (Yes, I am a keen bird photographer as well.)

Call playback should NOT be used without a permit for threatened or endangered species (e.g. Spotted Owls), or for species known to be especially sensitive to disturbance (e.g. trogons), and should probably be used cautiously for birds known or suspected to be nesting, when they might be more susceptible to disturbance.

For the record, I still use a cassette tape recorder with various recordings of bird calls and songs. I will have to switch to an iPOD or something similar soon when my cassettes stop working (I’ve had some of them for over 20 years). However, I find that I don’t use the recordings very often, and then mostly to determine the presence of species that vocalize infrequently, such as rails and owls. In doing something like a Breeding Bird Atlas (currently underway in BC), using recordings is the only easy way to determine the presence of some of these species, and knowing whether a species is present or absent in an area is more important than the slight disturbance it may cause to the individual birds.

Wayne C. Weber, Ph.D.
Delta, BC
contopus at telus.net

From: tweeters-bounces at mailman2.u.washington.edu [mailto:tweeters-bounces at mailman2.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Mechejmch
Sent: November-26-10 1:08 PM
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] iPods

Birders, one and all,

This could be one of those hot-button issues and I'm in such a good mood today that I'll play devil's advocate and ask, why does anyone have to consider taking speakers, "pocket sized" or otherwise, into the field to enjoy birding? What's really the point?

The most economical route would be to leave the electronics, and especially the speakers, in the car or at home. Invest in a camera and take home a few nice photos and allow nature to provide the sounds.

**I've removed the original poster's name because this is really a bigger issue for everyone to ponder and not take too personally. Perhaps it's a simple matter of different strokes, etc.

Thanks for your time and happy birding,

Joe Meche


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