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I enjoyed Laura's post.

I started birding in 1947 and have been pishing, mimicking Screech-owls and 
playing Screech-owl tapes for nearly 60 years. I have birded with Pete Dunne 
and have watched him in action at close range.

Based upon my extensive experience, I offer two hard and fast rules about 
pishing, taping, etc., plus ten more not-so-fast rules that often seem to be 
true:

1. Hard and Fast Rule 1: Sometimes it works. At other times it doesn't.

2. Hard and Fast Rule 2: I'm never going to be as good at it as Pete Dunne.

3. No-so-fast Rule 1 (Also known as "Fisher's Rule.")  Don't play the tape 
until you see a bird.

4. No-so-fast Rule 2: Everything works better when I am relaxed. If I am 
tense and/or impatient, it affects the cadence of my pishing, sends out bad 
vibes and makes the birds suspicious. Self confidence and spiritual harmony 
are important aspects of pishing.

5. No-so-fast Rule 3: The owl tape works especially well when there is a 
live Screech-owl in the area.  (Sometimes the birds ignore me and gather 
around a hollow tree, from the interior of which, I assume, the real 
Screech-owl is purring softly).

6. No-so-fast Rule 4: Pishing up LeConte's and other grassland sparrows 
allegedly works for other people. It never seems to work for me.

7. No-so-fast Rule 5:  Hole-nesting birds respond best to pishing and tape 
playing. Migrant warblers sometimes respond. Grassland birds rarely respond. 
Swimming ducks and geese never respond. (This is just common sense.)

8. No-so-fast Rule 6:  Neither pishing nor owl taping works when it's windy.

9. No-so-fast Rule 7: Swishing (a vigorous form of pishing) by a brush pile 
usually causes the sparrows in the brush pile to pop up and make themselves 
visible.

10. No-so-fast Rule 8: Owl-taping works better in the early morning and/or 
late afternoon than at mid-day. Birds that hear an owl tape at 2:00 p.m. 
usually say to themselves, "You've got to be kidding!"

11. No-so-fast Rule 9: Really depressing gloom-before-the-storm atmospheric 
conditions often depress any response to pishing and/or owl taping.

12: No-so-fast Rule 10: Where to place the tape is an art. I try to locate 
it in relation to nearby trees and bushes so that the birds will gather and 
scold where they are easy to see. Despite nearly 60 years of trying to learn 
the art, I still have not mastered it.

A couple of ethical rules should also be remembered:

1. Don't stimulate territorial birds for more than brief time periods during 
the nesting season. (Lengthy tape playing can wear birds out and/or cause 
them to abandon their territories),

2. Frequent stimulations of the same birds in the same location are 
unethical at any time of year.

Bob Fisher
Independence, Missouri
[log in to unmask] 

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