It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


Wildlife communciation/observation - Asktheanimals

page: 1
<<   2 >>

log in


posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 04:30 PM
Having seen several threads recently concerning human/animal communication one in particular gave me concern since many of us would love nothing more than to be able to literally "talk to the animals". One woman seems to have a real gift for it but it caused me concern that others might want to try to mimic her. There are some dangerous behaviors I'd like to point out lest someone try this in a chance encounter with a dangerous animal and end up the worse for it.

Staring - A huge no-no in the animal kingdom. It is a sign of aggression. Look at an angle in brief glances but never stare straight in their eyes for any length of time.

Smiling - When you smile what happens? You bare your teeth. What does it mean when an animal bares their teeth at you? Enough said.

I have always had pets and spent some time working in wildlife rehab. Watching and photographing animals is a favorite pastime of mine and I'd like to pass along some of what I've learned from experience as well as from the excellent books available.

It's important to know that not only are all species unique in behavior and habits but individuals within a single species can vary widely in temperament. Sex and time of year play important roles in behavior too. Like the Canada goose you fed by hand last fall can be your worst nightmare if you get too close to their nest in the late spring. We treat people as individuals and should do the same with our wild brethren. Constant exposure to humans and their activity is no guarantee of behavior. Humans usually mean danger to an animal. If they have not yet had a bad interaction with us we are at a minimum an unknown quantity and therefore a potential danger.

It is a good idea to read up beforehand on any species you think you might encounter and learn what you can about their behaviors, habits, food sources, etc.

If you want to observe animals without disturbing them there a few general rules that apply:

Personal space Just as humans define a certain space around them so do animals. Again, this varies widely by species and by individual quirks. Some will allow you to get within 20 feet with no reaction - others will bolt if they notice you a 1/2 mile away.
Mountain sheep, antelopes and many birds such as raptors and herons can only be observed at a distance. A good pair of binoculars or a spotting scope may be necessary to watch without disturbing them.

Minimize your "human-ness". Humans have certain characteristics that we should be mindful of and attempt to minimize them. Don't stand fully upright - stay in a crouched position or bend over if standing. Keep your arms and hands close to your body. This helps to minimize your size and therefore your potential as a threat.

Walk quietly and slowly This helps you to discover animals before they see you. Don't take long strides and never walk directly towards an animal you wish to observe. To get closer use cover between you and the animal to conceal your movement. Always move at an angle to them and never face them straight on - if you are sideways to them you look half as large as when facing them.

Pay attention to the wind. Not only does it carry your scent but sound as well, especially if near water. Try to remain downwind from the animal as much as possible.

Most mammals have a very acute sense of smell. They can smell you coming from far away. This would include: deer/antelope, horses, buffalo along with bears, foxes, wolves, coyotes and raccoons. Most smaller mammals as well as aquatic mammals have much more limited senses of smell. This group would include: beaver, muskrat, squirrel, rabbits, badgers and all weasel family including otters.

Be mindful of your emotional state. Try to be as relaxed as possible, clear your head of all thoughts and imagine yourself as just another part of the landscape. Not only does your emotional state manifest through physical characteristics but through your scent as well. It has been often said that dogs can smell fear. I believe that to be true of most mammals. Our bodies emit pheromones that signal primal messages far and wide.

The relaxed state of being is most conducive to receiving messages not only through our physical senses but through what most call telepathy - which I call "the recombinant sense". Not a true sense like vision but a combination of ALL of our senses, filtered through our brains like an echo which then act in concert to convey additional information.
People will say "I had a hunch" or "I just had this feeling". I think this is actually our other senses making their presence known rather than true telepathy.

Empathy or Unconditional love. This is what you should strive for in your emotional state. Our minds and bodies are constantly sending out messages, positive messages being much less threatening than negative ones.

Monitor their reactions to you Pause to observe any changes in attitude or movement in the animal. Try to gauge their reaction to you by it. Ask yourself: are they nervous? is that a reaction to me? are they responding to something else I don't see? Only move closer to animals that appear relaxed.

I should add that anyone who respects these creatures should do their utmost to not disturb them and cause them to stop whatever activity them might be involved in. Most people know enough to not approach nesting birds but spooking any animal can result in separating them from their young.

I learned the hard way while watching a pair of Red foxes late one winter. I had seen their tracks and scats and eventually tracked them back to a den they had recently dug in the ground. For several days I watched them come and go from a patch of brush until my curiosity got the best of me and I walked right up to the den. I sat for days after that only to conclude they had abandoned it because of my intrusion. I'm glad they had not yet given birth or I might have been responsible for killing an entire litter of kits. Forcing an animal to deviate from it's normal activity will affect it.

Observe, wonder, appreciate but from a safe distance - their safe distance. It's better to err on the side of caution than to have a negative impact on them simply due to our desire to be close.

With time and patience you can get fairly close to many of the creatures we share our world with without either being the worse for the encounter.

Sitting in one place where you have a good view especially near water is one of the best ways to watch animals go about their daily routine. Use of a tree stand can put you well above the ground if there no natural features available to watch from.

Animal Tracking Anyone serious about nature needs to learn the basics of this. It is simply learning to read the language of the signs left behind - their footprints, scats (feces), dens, nests, scrapes, feeding signs, etc. You don't need access to any wilderness areas to practice it, in fact you can do it everywhere you go and learn surprising things. Within a 1/2 acre lot of waste ground right in the middle of my city I found where a small herd of deer would come to sleep at night, hawks would hunt and even the tracks of a rabbit desperately running to avoid the jaws of a hungry Gray fox. To most everyone it looked like a lot full of tall weeds.

The world of nature - open for all to enjoy
I will post a list of books in a follow up.
edit on 17-12-2013 by Asktheanimals because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 04:43 PM

I often find people who "prep" neglect this type of information. Which is vital not only for hobbyist but in survival situations.

The ability to observe nature and know what the reactions of animals around you should be can mean the difference of life and death.

posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 04:51 PM
reply to post by Asktheanimals

Great thread. I am highly skeptical of the video in question (the spirit/diablo video) and very skeptical of animal empaths in general. I think people and animals can certainly communicate to some degree, but to suggest they can have personal dialog is to me, ridiculous.

Anyone who thinks they might be an animal empath and wants to run out into the wild to "communicate with the animal spirits" should probably watch this first:

For those unfamiliar, this is the story of Timothy Treadwell. He was an amateur wildlife enthusiast with a thing for grizzly bears, and decided he would document his experiences with these much "misunderstood" wild animals. Through out the documentary, I found myself constantly shaking my head and at times bursting out in laughter at just how stupid this mans behavior truly was. To make a long story short, Mr.Treadwell did not tread very well, and in the end he was mauled and eaten by grizzly bears while the cameras were rolling (this of course is not actually shown in the docudrama).

Wild animals are called "wild" for a reason. I'd give any animal empath a month in the amazon tops. It's one thing to love animals and appreciate their beauty. But do so respectfully and carefully, and for the love of common sense: Do so intelligently.

edit on 17-12-2013 by DeadSeraph because: (no reason given)

edit on 17-12-2013 by DeadSeraph because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 05:01 PM
reply to post by Asktheanimals

Good advice, I would really only add to it to say that animals are at they're most beautiful when left alone by man. If you want to observe wild life, then stay far back and just watch,don't interfere.Then you can see them as they are,not as they act around humans.

posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 05:19 PM
reply to post by benrl

Agreed Ben, I didn't even think about the survival aspects which I agree the critical observation skills are vital not only to watching animals but to spot other people as well - which may be the biggest danger in such a situation.

To me watching nature is like visiting a never-ending gallery of art, continuously changing and drawing us in deeper with every hour spent. The feeling of connection with our fellow travelers on this planet is something one cannot attach a price tag to, it adds beauty to our lives and contributes greatly to our sense of well-being and expands our sense of community to include all life.

In this day of tight budgets it's one of the few satisfying activities one can do for free.
The price of admission is a willingness to adjust to the cold or wet and perhaps a few briar scratches and bug bites.
A steal at any price.

posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 05:27 PM
reply to post by Asktheanimals

Very nice post, I love almost everything I have read from you in your responses and posts.

Intelligence difference aside, are not each species living in there own communities and families down to the individual not unlike us? We don't have to completely understand them to understand that they know community, love and loss.....what more is there?

If we expect respect from our animal cousins than we need to respect them and their ways no doubt. And by doing so we learn to respect ourselves for what we are, animals and caregivers.

Thanks for sharing your point of view, I appreciate the doing.


posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 05:28 PM
reply to post by DeadSeraph

Some wise words, thank you.
Thanks too for posting the Timothy Treadwell (Grizzly Man) story.
In the end he not only lost his life but put all the bear's lives in jeopardy by acclimating them to his presence. His foolishness cost not only him his life but that of his girlfriend and the old bear that attacked them which was old and could no longer fend well for itself - thus why it went for the easy prey of humans.
Doubtless he had an affinity with these bears but one must balance what he received in exchange for the price of forever altering the lives of the very animals he loved so much.

One could draw parallels between his story and that of parents who smother their children.
The best of intentions is no guarantee of a similar result.

edit on 17-12-2013 by Asktheanimals because: added comment

posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 05:34 PM
reply to post by Asktheanimals

Really great advice here.Anyone wanting to observe animals in the wild would do well to heed your words here.I,to have spent many hours in wild areas near where I live observing animals in their natural habitat.

We have a very large national wildlife area very near where I live and I have spent many hours in this area.Usually in areas where the general public don't go.Even in the depths of winter as I cross country ski.Tracking is so much easier in the snow.

posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 05:42 PM
reply to post by Asktheanimals

Not only great advice for those who want to observe wildlife, but also excellent advice for novice hunters (And those who haven't hunted in awhile and have forgotten key things).

While I like to hunt, just a walk in the woods also satifies. (Actually, I do that more nowadays than hunt.)

posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 05:58 PM
reply to post by Treespeaker

Thank you, that was very nice of you to say. Regarding animal intelligence every species is smart enough to survive thus far. Their ability to adapt to conditions created by man is a major factor that may dictate their ability to survive long term.
They do indeed share much in common with us and have feelings of community, family and love and loss. The biggest mistake we humans make is to try to put everything they do in to human terms. Instead we need to learn to see the world through their eyes, to understand their motivations and needs on their terms.

I consider each and every species a marvel of creation, a gift to the world that expands our sense of wonder and beauty. At a certain point you may even begin to appreciate the species that are a danger or an annoyance to us.

Mosquitoes can drive you crazy but are a major food source for barn swallows, a bird whose grace in the air is incredible to behold, their flight a spectacle of aeronautic gymnastics as they go about feeding. A world without mosquitoes would be a world without barn swallows and so it goes to the rest of animal kingdom.
Every species counts and is a connection to other species beyond it. We must accept and appreciate them all to fully understand the complete circle of life and our place in it.

posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 06:14 PM
reply to post by lonegurkha

I know your area well having spent a few years there growing up. Tracking in snow is an excellent way to begin learning animal tracking. Their trails are easy to spot and follow, leading you from feeding place to resting place, hiding places and more. You can also find evidence of interaction between animals and gauge their response to meeting each other.

This reminds of a fox I was trailing in snow which I followed for several hours as it went in search of it's food that night. You could easily spot where it jumped up and dove nose first in to the snow trying to grab mice or voles that make tunnels beneath it. A tiny drop of blood indicated at least one successful attempt.
It wasn't long after that the tracks of another fox came angling in you could read where they both stopped and began circling each other. In my mind I could picture them sniffing each other and the excitement increasing as they discovered the other was of the opposite sex.
After that burst out running, zig-zagging back and forth. I began to feel the joy they did at their meeting and followed to see where they went. Their trails ended where the snow had melted then frozen over again leaving a solid sheet of ice. You could still make out the tracks by the tiny scratches of their claws in the ice but by that point the sun was getting low and the cold had completely penetrated my body.
Like the foxes I figured it was time to find shelter and warmth and headed back to my truck.

I cannot count the number of stories like that one I've been fortunate enough to share in. 40+ years of rambling through the woods have left their mark on my soul and I will always be grateful for what nature has shared with me.
If my thread encourages just one person to go out and experience something special that is enough.

Glad you dropped by Gurkha!
edit on 17-12-2013 by Asktheanimals because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 06:26 PM
reply to post by Asktheanimals

I took some Reserve Soldiers out one weekend to do their Physical Fitness test in the MetroParks here where I live. After they had all took off on their two mile run, I was approached by a skunk.

Of course I froze, not wanting to be sprayed. Then another appeared, followed by a family of Raccoons, and then some squirrels and eventually joined by a Doe and her fawn who wandered up to me and snuffled me. It was pretty cool. Of course I do realize that these are all urban dwellers so humans don't spook them like their wild cousins.

When the Soldiers appeared at a distance I was surrounded by animals. One of the females who was taking the test remarked that she always knew I wasn't as gruff as I presented myself and that if the animals didn't feel threatened, then I must be a decent guy. I told her to keep her bleeping mouth shut.
We have to keep up appearances sometimes.

edit on 17-12-2013 by TDawgRex because: Spelling

posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 06:54 PM
reply to post by Asktheanimals

It's a gross generalization. Not all animals are the same.

Felines, as an instance, are very communicative with staring. Looking at them in the eyes is important to build trust with them.

And they don't seem to care much about smiling...

posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 06:55 PM
reply to post by Asktheanimals

I know that feeling all to well my friend.The area I was referring to was the Iroquois National wildlife refuge.This has become my favorite place to roam and experience animals.I have spent alot and I mean alot of time there over many years.As you know there are a great many pieces of state land around Western New York.But that one is my all time favorite. Saw my first ermine there also my first beaver dam.Got my butt kicked by a pair of Canada geese when I walked too close to their unseen nest.Man that hurt,had bruises for weeks.

Saw my first scarlet tananger there in a pine forest.I've seen so many birds there.It is the major migratory stopover for many species of birds on the east coast.Spring and fall are the best times.

posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 07:08 PM
reply to post by Echtelion

I am referring to wild animals in my OP, not pets.
That's a whole 'nother ball of wax.
If you have experience with big cats I'd love to hear about it.
edit on 17-12-2013 by Asktheanimals because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 18 2013 @ 01:15 AM


I used to watch my dog stalking the rabbits. He'd never look directly at them, in fact he'd do everything he could to look as though he hadn't even seen them, and he'd walk a very large circle but slowly spiral in towards them, then when he thought he was close enough he'd make a dash for them. If he was successful and managed to get in amongst them he'd leap up and down and yap excitedly LOL. He had no intention of hurting them, he just liked the challenge
Three years gone and I still miss him

edit on 18-12-2013 by VoidHawk because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 18 2013 @ 07:13 AM
reply to post by Asktheanimals

Great thread, thank you so very much for putting it together to share with us.

As you well know, I am an Appalachian Mountain girl through and through and the place will always be home no matter where I live. As a young girl, both my Dad and my Grandfather made sure to show me the ways to track, lessons that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Along with those lessons came lessons in much of what you also talk about which is having a sense of calmness, not making prolonged eye contact and not smiling (showing teeth) and so on. But I remember how my Dad put it to me, a child, in terms that I could easily remember.. "Remember, it's a matter of respecting the animals in their own house. You would not go into someone's house and disrespect them so don't go into the animal's house and disrespect them. We are there uninvited and they are kind enough to allow us to visit a bit". (Of course that is paraphrasing, but that's how my mind turned it into something to remember the rest of my life.)

With those things combined it has allowed me to have some of the most amazing experiences of my life, so thank you for passing along some tried and true wisdom that may allow someone else to start experiencing these things safely and with a sense of responsibility.

posted on Dec, 18 2013 @ 01:48 PM
reply to post by MyMindIsMyOwn

Good to hear from you, I always appreciate your comments. I realize that just the presence of humans affects animal behavior and natural systems but I hope people will remember that we are a part of nature too - and belong there as well.
We are the only animal capable of reviewing our own actions and changing our behaviors. In that respect we should be mindful of how we affect nature and do what we can to minimize it.

The more digital and urbanized we become the farther removed we are from nature. We view it as adversarial, something to be conquered and controlled. We can do no such thing. We can exterminate species and dam great rivers but nature will not be conquered. It is only temporary control. Every dam will crumble with time and new species will arise. It will come back, perhaps slowly by our standards but eventually and regenerate life once again.
We need to lose the fear and the arrogance and learn new ways to work in harmony with nature if we are to survive as a species.
So much change in just the short time I have been alive.
We better wake up and fast.
edit on 18-12-2013 by Asktheanimals because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 02:11 AM
I thought this might be nice to share in your thread.
I miss the guy.

posted on Dec, 22 2013 @ 08:02 AM
reply to post by Asktheanimals

I think that animal communication beyond a certain point is a pipe dream. For a start, there is no universal technique or set of behaviors, which applies to all animals. Each species, and even breed of animal, has its own unique characteristics in terms of behavior. Smiling, staring, all that malarky, dos and do nots, they are all different depending on the species, and even different depending on the way the animal has lived.

I am a friend to all cats, hell, pretty much anything with more legs than I have. Some cats, bought up from kittens in loving homes, love to see their owners, and their owners friends, smile. When they come and say hello, or take up residence in our laps in order to be petted, they are not one bit concerned by a warm and loving smile, and if their behavior upon being exposed to that expression is anything to go by, they learn that it is positive, not threatening.

Cats which grow up on the streets, or in abusive home environments do not react the same way, they have a more feral understanding of behavior, both their own, and human behavior, so they have a totally different outlook and behavior of their own, and even then you have to consider the individual. Two cats with similar history will react differently to like stimuli, just as humans do.

Dogs react differently to human behavior than cats do in so many ways that to list them would be the work of some considerable time in order to properly codify, and AGAIN each animal, due to its upbringing and its life experience, will have its own little quirks. Because of this, and the sheer number of animal species on this planet, there is no one human being, who can claim that they can communicate with animals in general. They may have an amazing capacity to be accepted by cats, or dogs, or maybe both using subtle behavioral techniques in order to insert themselves seamlessly into the lives of these animals, but to suggest that any one person would be able to do the same with a corn snake, a tiger, a monkey, a sea lion, and a koala bear, is deeply improbable.

And lets face it, when I communicate with you folks, or with my family, we transmit data in very clear ways, using vocalisation, or one of the many tools that we have developed to send written data, which makes clear, in no uncertain terms, the meaning that we are attempting to convey. We can discuss how we feel about an individual, without them present, or with them present.

A cat cannot explain how it feels about its owner verbally, and I believe that mere behavioral cues cannot give the level of detailed communion between a relative stranger and an animal, that would qualify as effective communication. There is every chance that a person might be able to gain some insight into how an animal feels about its surroundings, its owner, or its lifestyle, IF the person claiming communicative ability already knew the key players, and made some intuition based leaps from that platform. But an animal could not enter the offices or home of such a person, sit on a couch with them, and give a life history complete with ownership history, current living arrangements, individual incidents of abuse or love, complete with dates, times, and whether it was sunny out on the day or not.

Its a nonsense.

<<   2 >>

log in