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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Birding Ethics

Christopher Tessaglia-Hymes, the administrator of the New York State Birding List discussion forum, just posted a timely reminder about birdwatcher behavior and ethics. During this Winter season, when we are experiencing an irruption of, not just Northern finches, but also owls, it is key to the health and survival of these animals that we be respectful:

Subject: OWLS and Ethical Birding
From: Christopher T. Tessaglia-Hymes
Date: Tue, 4 Dec 2012

I am sending out this message as a reminder about ethical birding, especially as it pertains to owls during this winter season.

Although the content of this message is on owls, this message may apply to almost any unusual species.

In the past, birders have witnessed other birders and bird photographers acting in a way that does not conform to the American Bird Association's (ABA) Principles of Birding Ethics.

Several of these behaviors have included, but not been limited to:

- Getting too close to a resting owl or causing a disruption that forces an owl to flush from its resting location. This causes wasted expenditure of much-needed energy

- Using powerful flash photography. This may disrupt the normal activity of an owl (sleeping, foraging, etc.)

- Releasing unnatural food resources (cage mice) into the environment. This may cause an owl to associate humans with an unnatural food source which may also contain unknown chemicals or antibiotics

- Loud talking, pishing or squeaking to attract the attention of an owl. This may further disrupt the normal activity of an owl

The discovery of owls or other rare birds may cause larger-than-normal numbers of people to gather near a rare or unusual bird. This may lead to undue stress to an already stressed bird.

In an effort to help minimize the negative impacts that we, as birders, may have upon recently discovered owls, please refrain from openly disclosing the exact location of any owl on the NYSbirds-L eList. Please keep any postings that mention owl sightings, as general as possible.

As Listowner of the NYSbirds-L eList, I have little control over how people behave around these birds; however, I do have control over who is subscribed to this eList.

If, while observing an unusual or rare bird, anyone witnesses birder behavior which severely contradicts the ABA Principles of Birding Ethics, please document this unethical behavior and find out the name of the individual or individuals in question. If it is clear and blatant harassment of a bird, please document this. Report this unethical or illegal behavior to me and report this to the appropriate Office representing your region at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. If this person is a subscriber of the NYSbirds-L eList, their subscription status will be brought into question by me.

Please note, I cannot prevent someone who has documented unethical birding behavior from posting that information to YouTube or any public forums outside of NYSbirds-L. If this is documented and publicized, your reputation may be at stake. Bear in mind that it is *not* okay to openly lambast specific violators on the NYSbirds-L eList. Please read the NYSbirds-L eList rules at this link:

*It is in your own best interest to read, understand, and follow the Principles of Birding Ethics!*

Thank you and do not hesitate to contact me off List with your questions or concerns.

Chris T-H

Chris Tessaglia-Hymes
Listowner, NYSbirds-L
Ithaca, New York
cth4 AT

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