Here, then, are some common-sense suggestions for minimizing playback disturbance to birds and other birders, from noted field guide author David Sibley's website:
— Have a plan. Choose your spot and know your quarry, don't just play sounds.
— Play snippets of sound — less than 30 seconds at a time — with a long pause before the next snippet. After five minutes or so, give it a rest.
— Be subtle. You are trying to coax a bird into the open, not stir up a fight (among competing males during mating season).
— No surprises. Announce your intention to play a recording and hold the device above your shoulder so other birders can see the source of the sound.
"Any potential negative impacts of playback are more likely to occur in areas with a lot of birding pressure, so avoiding playback in those places is a good idea," Sibley writes. "Where and how to use it in other situations is up to the individual birder."