Monday, August 19, 2013

Attracting birds by making noises II

(This is the second part of something I posted yesterday about spishing, squeeking, and using owl calls to draw birds into view)

What species?

It is very helpful to know what species to focus your spishing attentions on; here is a list of some commonly encountered species that are especially responsive:

Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina, House, Winter, Marsh, and Sedge Wrens
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Orange-crowned, Magnolia, Yellow, and Yellow-rumped Warblers
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Northern Cardinal
Eastern Towhee
Song, Savannah, White-throated, and Swamp Sparrows

It is good to remember that if you can just get one bird riled up at your spishing, its response will often excite other birds enough to draw them into view as well.  In the best circumstances, you can have a dozen or more birds all fussing at you at once.

I spish much more than I squeek, so do not have as good a sense of what species respond to squeeking better.  However, squeeking has the rep of being better than spishing at attracting predators, especially owls.  In addition, some people squeek at shorebirds to draw them close- most often while they are flying around.

Owl calls seem to work with much the same crowd as spishing- again, I have not noticed any differences.  Except, of course, that an owl sometimes calls back (especially Screech).

One peculiarity of spishing is that it has long been claimed that it does not work in Europe.  British birders often look at us with bemusement when they see "Yanks" doing it.  I tested its effectiveness numerous times in 2010 while I was in Austria, focusing on tits (the family of birds we call chickadees)- and I will admit, had very little response.   


for a copy of Birding Made Easy- New Orleans, email me at, or look for it at the Maple Street or Garden District Book Shops.

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