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offshorebirder

Does pishing work in Kenya?

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Question for you birders out there: does 'pishing' or 'hissing-the-villian' work in attracting birds in Africa (Kenya specifically)?

 

Of course I would not do it where it might disturb native wildlife like Lions, etc. or in heavily traveled areas...

 

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I can't comment on behalf of Kenyan birds, but here in SA I have never seen a photographer doing that.

 

On a couple of occasions in hides I have seen photographers trying to call birds by playing their calls, and I once tried it in my garden, but have never seen this method work either.

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I don't know if pishing works in Africa as well as it does in Europe or the US I haven't tried it myself, but I'm fairly sure I have been with guides who have so I think it does work a bit, however this article What is Pishing suggests that it doesn't work as well in the tropics so I would suggest that when the opportunity arrises give it a go and see what happens.

 

As for playback, lots of birds can certainly be called in I've seen a lot of birds this way especially in South America where bird guides rely on this technique to show their clients the hard to find species, I have also seen birds in Africa this way. It usually works quite well with trogons, playing back calls is a little controversial and should be used sparingly but to stand a chance of seeing some forest species playback really is the best option and it's worth pointing out that some local African bird guides are experts at mimicking birds so they can call them in without resorting to using an iPod. Rather than playing the call of the bird you want to attract another method is to playback or mimic the call of a pearl-spotted owlet small birds hate these owls and will invariably mob one when they find it so this will attract a whole variety of small birds that will come to look for their enemy. This trick obviously should also be used very sparingly otherwise birds will stop reacting as they do in places where playback is used all the time. Used responsibly in areas that are not heavily birded I think using playback is fine.

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Thanks @@Peter Connan and @@inyathi.

 

I had been planning to see if whistling like a Pearl-spotted Owlet attracted mobbing birds - it certainly works well using their counterpart here in North America (Northern Pygmy-Owl). Or perhaps judiciously playing a PSO's call on my iPhone.

 

I will also try pishing and squeaking. I am pretty good at luring N. American sparrows with squeaking (kissing the fingers of my hand held flat).

 

And yes, I will certainly check with my guide and others about whether it is OK to do a little judicious playback.

 

I will report back what I find in terms of reaction / no reaction on various types of birds in various areas.

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The song of the Nightingale and Thrush Nightingale are said to ruin sleep for some people.

I have heard that it is possible to evict it from its territory by continuously playback its song.

Poor bird, but maybe better than killing it or cut down all bushes in the area.

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I have learnt a new term..'pishing'. Thanks@@offshorebirder . What a lovely word

 

 

but I have also heard that this practice is frowned on by some, as it disrupts the normal pattern of behaviour on a non existent threat /potential partner.......or is that just a few purists?

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One of the groups I am a member of 'The Society of Ethical Wildlife Photographers' is pretty anti any of these artificial methods of attracting birds. I'm not a birder so it isn't anything that I'd be interested in pursuing. However, I've worked on a number of photographic organisations where there has been a great effort to increase the compliance of nature photographers to behave in an ethical manner around wildlife. This has naturally included increasing the knowledge of photographers about what constitutes ethical behaviour. The debate is ongoing and is at times fairly vitriolic, as one can imagine.

 

How much of a problem it would be on safari, in isolation, is up for discussion I guess.

 

I've attached some links for anyone who is interested in looking further into the issue of ethical behaviour in nature photography.

 

Given your interest @@offshorebirder I imagine that you are familiar with all the links I'm adding here, but they may provide further information for other photographers.

 

http://www.sibleyguides.com/2011/04/the-proper-use-of-playback-in-birding/

 

 

 

Fundamentally, birding disturbs birds. Everything that we do has an impact on birds. A total ban on playback (as some advocate) should equally include a total ban on pishing and mimicking bird calls. In some situations playback can be less disruptive than other methods of attracting birds, at times even less disruptive than sitting quietly and waiting for a bird to show.

 

 

http://focusingonwildlife.com/news/nature-photography-ethics-and-conservation-issues/

 

 

http://www.naturephotographers.net/ethics.html

 

 

http://www.aba.org/about/ethics.html

 

 

To avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger, exercise restraint and caution during observation, photography, sound recording, or filming.

Limit the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds, and never use such methods in heavily birded areas, or for attracting any species that is Threatened, Endangered, or of Special Concern, or is rare in your local area;

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

@@twaffle is right - too much pishing, or playback of vocalizations, can disrupt bird behavior and in very rare cases distract birds so a real predator nabs them

 

I never use pishing, squeaking, etc. when rare or threatened species are involved, or in heavily birded areas, or in refuges where such activity is prohibited. And I never pish for long. But birds figure out pretty quickly that nothing is there and go back to their normal business - it's almost impossible to keep their attention for long.

 

-- After today I can report that pishing ABSOLUTELY works in Kenya. Yesterday I pished up some Yellow-breasted Apalis, White-bellied Tits, Common Bulbuls and other birds (with just a few pish notes) on the wooded grounds of the Purdy Arms in Karen.

 

Today our guide Francis (from Ben's Ecological Safaris) and I had very good results pishing responsibly along our route down Magadi Road. Just in the stretch from Corner Baridi (near crest of the Ngong Hills) to Oltepesi, we had six species of Sunbirds, Four species of Barbets, Buntings and Canaries galore, African Gray and Spotted Flycatchers, more White-breasted Scrub-Robins than you could shake a stick at, several Spotted Morning-Thrushes, Absynnian and Yellow White-eyes, multiple Shlow's Wheatears, Yellow-spotted Petronias, Red-throated Tits, Red-fronted Warblers and many other species popped up to take a look at us in response to pishing.

 

I know @@twaffle's point is correct, but as some of my PhD ornithologist birding friends like to point out: no peer-reviewed publication has ever concluded that pishing is detrimental to birds. But there are a lot of truths out there that have never been sufficiently quantified for publication - nature is too slippery to pin down in so many ways...

 

PS I just got finished watching and listening to a Silvery-cheeked Hornbill getting mobbed by several Black Kites on the grounds of the Purdy Arms. What a delightful racket.

Edited by offshorebirder
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-- After today I can report that pishing ABSOLUTELY works in Kenya. Yesterday I pished up some Yellow-breasted Apalis, White-bellied Tits, Common Bulbuls and other birds (with just a few pish notes) on the wooded grounds of the Purdy Arms in Karen.

 

Today our guide Francis (from Ben's Ecological Safaris) and I had very good results pishing responsibly along our route down Magadi Road. Just in the stretch from Corner Baridi (near crest of the Ngong Hills) to Oltepesi, we had six species of Sunbirds, Four species of Barbets, Buntings and Canaries galore, African Gray and Spotted Flycatchers, more White-breasted Scrub-Robins than you could shake a stick at, several Spotted Morning-Thrushes, Absynnian and Yellow White-eyes, multiple Shlow's Wheatears, Yellow-spotted Petronias, Red-throated Tits, Red-fronted Warblers and many other species popped up to take a look at us in response to pishing.

 

I know @@twaffle's point is correct, but as some of my PhD ornithologist birding friends like to point out: no peer-reviewed publication has ever concluded that pishing is detrimental to birds. But there are a lot of truths out there that have never been sufficiently quantified for publication - nature is too slippery to pin down in so many ways...

 

PS I just got finished watching and listening to a Silvery-cheeked Hornbill getting mobbed by several Black Kites on the grounds of the Purdy Arms. What a delightful racket.

 

~ @@offshorebirder

 

It's GREAT to hear from you in Kenya!

The results you've described are stupendous!

The decision to travel with a birding guide from Ben's Ecological Safaris has been shown to be wise.

Most of the species you've described have never been observed, let alone photographed, by yours truly in Kenya.

I doff my cap to you in admiration for your birding and in appreciation for your kindness in sharing the good news with us.

Asante sana!

Tom K.

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Hakuna matata - karibu sana, @@Tom Kellie!

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@@offshorebirder it sounds like you're having a fantastic trip so far. I'm looking forward to seeing photos. Hope the birds keep co-operating.

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In Gambia our guide was very good at calling different birds and sometimes quite successful.

But soon it became quite annoying to hear him pishing all the time.

We never told him to stop pishing however, but would have done it the third day if not we then got another guide who was more of the quiet type.

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