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RE: recording owl vocalizations

Subject: RE: recording owl vocalizations
From: "Martyn Stewart" <>
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 15:35:47 -0700
<<Rich sometimes has trouble distinguishing between his imagination or
agenda and reality. One has to filter what he says as a result.>>

OK, my turn.

Let's stop singling out off fellow nature recordists here, everyone is
entitled to an opinion, lets keep this healthy.
This is not an environment to criticize fellow members in an open forum like
I don't want to be part of a nursery school either :)


Martyn Stewart
Bird and Animal Sounds Digitally Recorded at:

N47.65543   W121.98428
Redmond. Washington. USA
Make every Garden a wildlife Habitat!


-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Walter Knapp
Sent: Tuesday, June 28, 2005 11:05 AM
Subject: [Nature Recordists] recording owl vocalizations

From: "wahpenayo" <>

> I apologize for causing the rhubarb. I do not advocate the use of 
> playback to record birdsong. I'm recording as an opportunity only 
> resulting from work I'm already doing. I appreciate the concerns 
> expressed for the owls. I try to tread as lightly as possible, and 
> usually call any one owl pair no more than once or twice in a year's 
> time. I don't believe that is harmful, but recognize there is 
> legitimate argument both ways. I've argued with myself many times 
> over it.

You owe no apology, least of all to the environmental firebrands that 
are (unfortunately) part of this group. They tend to think that all 
animals think and respond like humans. The truth is we don't know what 
other species are thinking and have little information on the long term 

> Without the research, spotted owls would have been gone from this 
> area by now. Their habitat would have been logged. Imitating calls to 
> gain a response from an owl could have a negative effect (but who is 
> not just guessing on this?) but removing their habitat certainly 
> does. Now, with the barred owl, there are many who are saying that it 
> is a lost cause, that barred owls will eliminate spotted owls, so 
> it's okay to log all the older forest, and who cares about the other 
> species that may be lost. There is a very real possibility this could 
> happen.

I get the impression I'm the only one here who can read english. I read 
yet again that what you have been doing as imitating the calls, not 
playing back a recording. Is this correct? And how do you imitate their 
call? Do you work on sounding the same as their call, or just do key 
elements that you know will get a response?

I have a imitation of the Pine Barrens Treefrog, my own voice, sort of. 
It works, but bears only a superficial resemblance to the actual call. 
And, no, I won't repeat it in public. The Pine Barrens Treefrog range in 
the southeast is primarily known through these methods as it's very 
unlikely that you will see one, and their call pattern seems designed to 
be overlooked. But they respond to our crude imitations very well. They 
should be in Georgia, but there are only unconfirmed reports. It's going 
to be a long search as the possible areas cover a lot of Georgia.

It took me 5 years to reconfirm the Brimley's Chorus Frog in Georgia, 
Pine Barrens will probably take much longer if I'm successful at all.

> Results from my work show that there are areas that appear to be 
> resistant to barred owl occupation. Yet nany of these areas have no 
> protection from habitat removal. I am therefore working to get these 
> areas protected so that the spotted owl may (hopefully) continue to 
> be a resident species in SW Washington.

Perhaps better to say that some areas are not the preferred habitat for 
barred owls. Obviously more research is needed on the habitat 
preferences of the two species.

> I can understand why a recordist would be concerned about the use of 
> playback. If there are better, non-invasive methods that could be 
> effectively employed, we would all be highly interested. Again, I do 
> not advocate the use of playback to record birdsong.

If for no other reason, it is fairly well known that the resulting calls 
are not representative of the birds. Beyond that, the reasons are mostly 
speculation. I don't advocate playback as I believe we should be 
recording the natural calls.

> Rich, hybrids do not appear to be a problem. Their occurance is 
> pretty rare, possibly due to initial colonization of an area by 
> barred owls where barred owl mates are scarce. It is unlikely that a 
> barred owl differentiates a spotted owl call from a barred owl call 
> like we do, more likely that it recognizes a STRIX call. But where 
> did you get the idea that the purpose is to advocate clearcutting 
> forest? That is the exact opposite of what I believe.

Rich sometimes has trouble distinguishing between his imagination or 
agenda and reality. One has to filter what he says as a result.

Incidentally, I spent most of my youth at Washougal, WA. I have roamed 
the forests you are working back then. I'm pretty sure I saw a spotted 
owl but I was not really paying attention to owls. I came through the 
area in May on my long western trip. I'm kind of glad to see that some 
official recognition of the natural value of the Columbia River Gorge 
has occurred. The expansion of population in the area since I last lived 
there is enormous.


"Microphones are not ears,
Loudspeakers are not birds,
A listening room is not nature."
Klas Strandberg 
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