Recorded Vocalizations – A New Tool for Wildlife Rehabilitators

There are so many cases where you bring a nestling back to the spot where it was found, but the nest is gone, and you don’t know if the adults are still in the area.  You need to locate the adult birds and make sure they realize their offspring is back so they’ll give it the care it needs.  But it sometimes takes hours to verify that the adults are in the area and are again taking care of their missing offspring.

In 2001, I discovered a tool that makes it much easier to attract the attention of a young raptor’s parents. Thanks to this tool it is rarely necessary for us to wait for hours in the dark for an owl family to discover the nest basket containing their missing offspring.  Now we simply play a recording of the juvenile’s food begging calls, or its alarm calls, and in most cases the parents are attracted irresistibly—even after a separation of a week or more.

 Recording the calls of a young Great Horned Owl

This technique is so obvious, it’s really a no-brainer.  The reason the young animals make those calls is to communicate with their parents.  Making a recording of these calls gives you the ability to ‘talk’ to the adults in a language they can understand!  My book, Calls of the Wild, Using Recorded Calls and Other Tools to Reunite Juvenile and Adult Raptors, comes with a CD of the calls of 9 species of eastern raptors. Click here for information on how to order Calls of the Wild from the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association.  You can also make your own recordings, even with inexpensive equipment.