Friday, October 13, 2006

CBC etiquette?

On a listserv yesterday, a birder wrote about an upcoming Christmas Bird Count, including this bit: “Each party should have a screech owl tape for attracting birds. If you have one please bring it.”

Do you participate in the annual winter census, typically between mid-December and the first week of January? If so, is it standard operating procedure to lure birds with a tape during your count?

I've heard arguments for and against using screech-owl calls during counts and field trips. Your thoughts?


Blogger Patrick Belardo said...

I don't use tapes myself, nor have I seen any NJ count people suggesting the use of them. I've been on plenty of birding trips where the leader does use tapes, especially with the well-known tour companies.

Personally, I'm not 100% against the use of calls if used outside of nesting season. I don't use it myself because I know some people are against it.

I know a lot of great NJ Audubon leaders who do imitations of Screech Owls to try to lure in songbirds. Is an imitation any better/worse than a tape?

October 13, 2006 6:53 PM  
Blogger Susan Gets Native said...

I am with Patrick. If it's not nesting season, what's the harm?
I guess some birders are so hard core that calls are considered cheating???

October 13, 2006 7:53 PM  
Blogger Jody Hildreth said...

Personally, I use Screech-Owl calls early in the morning during Christmas Bird Counts (between 4:00 -7:00 am) specifically to find Eastern Screech-Owls. Unfortunately, I only have a 50% success rate. I drive around my area, stop at appropriate habitat, and play the call a few times to see if there is any response.

I do remember Pete Dunn's thoughts on this subject were posted a while back on this blog. His suggestions were (regarding pishing, which included Eastern Screech-Owl calls):

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.

So, perhaps it depends on what part of the country you are birding. Certainly here in upstate New York we have a better chance at being below 10 degrees than in the southern states.

Just my thoughts.

October 14, 2006 8:15 AM  
Blogger Freudian Slip said...

Perhaps it depends on how much pressure you feel under to see some birds, even though it may be a bit out of etiquette.

October 15, 2006 5:35 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Thanks, all, for the feedback!

October 16, 2006 10:20 AM  

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