Ivory-billed Woodpecker Celebration 7
During his "Pishing to Attract Birds" workshop, Dunne said Floyd P. Wolfarth introduced him to the technique. "So there I was, standing on Raccoon Ridge with God, when a flock of chickadees flew by. Floyd made this sound, and the chickadees put on the brakes to see who made it."
Pishing typically involves mimicking the scolding or alarm calls made by birds, and it apparently works better in the East, Dunne said. The basic pish sounds like a scolding Tufted Titmouse.
The point is to "get one bird to get excited and to bring its voice to the fracas," he said. The other birds are thought to react because they want to see what's going on, to see what's causing the disruption of their sleep/eat/preen schedule and to show off how close they can get (to a snake, for instance).
Dunne's pishing sequence starts with a basic pish, followed by a vehement pish, a pish with a rising inflection, a break in the pattern like a stutter, an Eastern Screech-Owl call, a squeal and a chip. He recommends practicing in the car -- as long as the windows are up.
The screech-owl call requires "a gob of spit" in the center of the back of the tongue, Dunne said. While whistling, he also recommended tilting your chin to find a good angle.
The squeal call sounds like mating wood frogs, he said. "It's all in the lips," he advised, before explaining that your index and middle fingers act as a resonator and a compressor.
Dunne developed it after watching a European Starling dying in the talons of a Cooper's Hawk. He said to use the squeal for only two or three seconds, then follow it with a pish "to let 'em know there's one survivor."
Certain situations require refraining from pishing, Dunne said:
* heavily birded areas
* while hawks are hunting
* when the temperature is below 10 degrees
* while birds are nesting and incubating.