Bird watching is a recreational activity where the bird watcher’s gain is the intrinsic rewards of being in sync with nature. Since birdwatchers enjoy birds, birding must always respect wildlife, environment and the rights of the other. 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 follow to make sure that disturbing birds, disturbing other people or harming the environment is being avoided. There are some rules that are common sense things, while there are ethical knowledge which are not so obvious.
Be sure not to interrupt or disrupt other people from enjoying birding. Respect their property and the privacy of others. Aside from people, also avoid disturbing the birds themselves. Disturbing or stressing birds, especially those who are breeding. Disturbing or stressing them may cause them to leave or abandon their eggs or chicks. Avoid harassing them with too much bird calls. Don’t disturb a nest or handle eggs that you have seen.
Leave nothing but your footprints. Avoid damaging the environment and littering. Make sure to take back any garbage upon leaving. Feeding wild bird inappropriate food is a no. Also avoid leaving food scraps or any left-over food that may attract bird predators.
Even if you are just leaving your birding position for a bathroom break, make sure to take the garbage with you. Left behind wrappers, cans and bottles can get the attention of the birds as well. They may try to eat one of wrappers and can get sick or eventually die.
Also avoid interfering with birds that seem to be in distress. Examples are baby birds 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. Live them alone, what you can do is to make sure that there are no bird predators around.
Also birds carry diseases. There are birds who carry West Nile Virus, other have ticks that carry disease like the Lyme disease. Bird mites can get into humans, although they would not stay they can cause enough misery. Report sick or dead birds to the local authorities who can appropriately address these cases, but avoid handling these birds.
One of the most important ethics is to share the birding code of ethics with beginners. The beginning birder may not be aware of the ethics involved with birding, so it is up to the present birdwatchers to share the knowledge. Sharing your knowledge and what you have learned along the way. You might just make a birding friend or two.
In a nut shell, most of the bird watching code of ethics are common sense. If the environment and everyone you have met with respect, bird watching can be great fun. Without the birds, then there is nothing that you would be able to enjoy.
Birdwatching as a recreational activity can go a long way, and by abiding with the code of ethics then everyone can benefit from this great sport.