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Talking Animals?

July 3, 2022

Many of us who have spent decades in the wide open spaces of America have seen our share of talking animals. We’re not talking Dr. Doolittle here; Rather, we have been listening to the sounds of nature and its many treasured inhabitants. Yes, they do speak if only we will listen! We need to learn how to respond.

My own odyssey with talking animals began over 65 years ago on the open pasture land of the Upper Owens River in Northern California. While fishing for fat Brown Trout at age four and five, I often heard the nearby vocalizations of the many cows grazing there in the flooded pastures of spring. As I would pass, they would speak to me and so I often answered with variously pitched moos of my own. As the years rolled on, I became quite accomplished at bull shitting with my bovine friends. It is an odd talent I admit, but I was quite good at it. So I pushed on to learn the languages of many other animals as well.

As I grew up in California, I often found myself communicating with birds, deer, coyotes and a plethora of other creatures in their native tongues. Did you know that male and female deer have different vocalizations? Likewise, Chickadees have two ways of speaking, one female and one male. Regularly I found myself conversing with many animals in their own language; sort of an ASL (Animal As A Second Language) approach to conversation. It was an arrangement of total parity I suppose. They seemed to have been better off for the experience and so was I. What was left at the end of the day was a better understanding by all involved.

All of this is not to say that I had any tall, fuzzy friends named Harvey. I simply learned to communicate with the animals around me wherever I found myself in California’s rugged outbacks. Coyotes can be called, they can be answered and even convinced in an argument of howls. I know. I’ve been there!

Frequent visits as a child to Wyoming and Montana improved my language skills. I soon learned the proper way to bugle a bull elk and grunt a good sentence or two with the American Bison. To what end you ask? First to amuse myself a little but more importantly to try to understand the wildlife world around me. I have called owls to my side and we have discussed the prospects for night hunting. I have spoken to crickets to let them know I certainly wasn’t going to be the one to step on them. I even had a brief discourse once with an angry mother Black Bear in Yosemite. I just wanted to let her know I wasn’t a threat and I would appreciate the same accordance.

Talking animals? Really? Yes, absolutely! Just ask my friend in the photo above. We had an excellent discussion about why tourists get too close to elk. His points were well taken.

Having been a student of talking animals for decades, I feel obliged to ask, “Do you speak marmot?

Read author Allen E. Rizziโ€™s latest books available at

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  1. Incredible journey of life, thank you for sharing the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I get it, Allen. I’ve been known to have conversations with squirrels, since we’re both a little squirrelly. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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