Bird watching is a recreational activity where the bird watcher’s gain is the intrinsic rewards of being in sync with nature. Bird watchers enjoy birds. Use common sense when out bird watching. You must always respect wildlife, the environment and the rights of others. As stated in the American Birding Association’s Principles of Birding Ethics, “the welfare of the birds and their environment comes first.”
There are some simple birding ethics that bird watchers must follow. Here are a few of the common sense rules that should be obeyed while bird watching. Make sure that you are not disturbing birds, disturbing other people or harming the environment.
Be sure not to interrupt or disrupt other people from enjoying birding. Respect people’s property and the privacy of others. Aside from people, also avoid disturbing the birds themselves. Don’t disturb or stress birds, especially those who are breeding, as this may cause them to leave or abandon their eggs or chicks. Avoid harassing them with excessive bird calls. Never disturb a nest or handle eggs.
Leave nothing but your footprints on your bird watching adventures. Avoid damaging the environment and littering. Make sure to take back any garbage upon leaving. Feeding wild birds inappropriate food is not acceptable. Avoid leaving food scraps or any left-over food that may attract bird predators. When leaving your birding position for a bathroom break take your garbage with you. Wrappers, cans and bottles left behind can attract birds. These misplaced wrappers and items if eaten by the birds may make the birds sick or even cause them to die. It is best to put your trash into your backpack and dispose of it properly.
Also avoid interfering with birds that seem to be in distress. An example is baby birds that are on on the ground. They may not be abandoned but just out of the nest and learning how to fly. Some birds just wait for humans to leave before they rescue or return for their young.
Another example are hummingbirds in a state of torpor. They may look like they’re dead, but actually they are resting to replace the energy. Birds who are stunned because they hit a window or something will come around. Leave them alone. What you can do is to make sure that there are no bird predators around.
Birds carry diseases. There are birds who carry the West Nile Virus and others who have ticks that carry diseases like the Lyme disease. Bird mites can get into humans, although they would not stay, they can cause you some misery. Report sick or dead birds to the local authorities who can appropriately address these cases, but avoid handling the birds.
One of the most important rules is to share the birding code of ethics with beginners. The beginning birder may not be aware of the ethics involved with birding. It is up to the present bird watchers to share this knowledge, what you have learned along the way, with beginning bird watchers. You may just make a new birding friend or two.
In a nut shell, most of the bird watching code of ethics is common sense. Respect fellow bird watchers and respect the environment. Bird watching can be great fun.
Bird watching as a recreational activity can go a long way. By abiding with the code of ethics everyone can benefit from this great sport.