Several items in the last week — the baiting of the Great Gray Owl in Wisconsin and the possible harassment of the gyrfalcon in Hadley, MA, have again raised the issue of ethics of photographers and birders. Our friends at MassBirds posted this thoughtful article on the need for all of us to remind ourselves and others of ethics and practice what we preach.
If you aren’t aware of it, or haven’t read it recently, please read the American Birding Association Code of Ethics
www.aba.org/about/ethics.html (About ABA tab, Code of Ethics).
Our local clubs also have code of ethics that can be found on their websites and in their publications. For example, the Brookline Bird Club Code of Ethics can be reached from a link from www.brooklinebirdclub.org (Code of Ethics).
Here’s what I ask. To the leadership of local clubs, next time you meet, point out your organization’s code of ethics and discuss it, if only for a minute or two. To trip leaders, talk about birding ethics briefly at the beginning of your walk. To every birder, when you go birding with a novice, model good ethical behavior and let that novice know good behavior is expected and required.
Make no mistake about it, when birders or photographers behave unethically by disturbing birds or habitat, those actions make it much more likely that others will not see that bird or disclose that location. By behaving unethically, you make it much more likely that rarities, sensitive habitats and sensitive situations will not be disclosed. Not only do you cause disturbance and damage the current situation, you damage future opportunities for yourself and others.
Unfortunately, we don’t often discuss good birding behavior unless there’s a problem. Let’s make a commitment to bird ethically, and to inform and educate those joining our ranks about why good birding ethics are the foundation of good birding.