We used playback presentations to free-flying bats of 3 species to assess the influence of echolocation call design and foraging strategy on the role of echolocation calls in communication. Near feeding sites over water, Myotis lucifugus and M. yumanensis responded positively only to echolocation calls of conspecifics. Near roosts, these bats did not respond before young of the year became volant, and after this responded to presentations of echolocation calls of similar and dissimilar design. At feeding sites Lasiurus borealis responded only to echolocation calls of conspecifics and particularly to “feeding buzzes”. While Myotis, particularly subadults, appear to use the echolocation calls of conspecifics to locate feeding sites, L. borealis appears to use the calls of a foraging neighbour attacking prey to identify opportunities for ‘stealing’ food.