This area is for general discussion on Birds and Birding.
By daddyhominum
#7489
I think that bird behaviour varies widely from species to species, locale to locale and over time within the species for specific locales.

The approach of people with cameras to the shore of Esquimalt Lagoon will draw birds of many varities from all over the Lagoon to the shore beside the photographers. Similarly, birds feeding on backyard feeders will find cameras of no consequence at all.

There are sites like Reifel that are intentional meeting places for people and birds and only those individuals, bird or human, who wish to be there, go there.

Birds are free to avoid photographers and most do by avoiding such places. Even Owls, if they find human company and cameras with flashes disturbing, can avoid them.

Even in the wildest bush, hidden beneath a perfect blind, a photographer gets only the pictures that the wild creature permits.

In my opinion, photography has been a huge boon to wild creatures. It is hard to imagine the current interest in ecology and a 'greener' world without it.

It may be that photographers have scared birds off their nests from time to time but it may be due to photographers that more nesting areas have not been destroyed by human needs.
By Guy L. Monty
#7493
don't mean to argue, but I find your argument to be biologically unsound, and more than a little disturbing. Ethical photography, or for that matter, any arena of ethical outdoor activities, makes a demand on the disturber, not the disturbee, to alter their behavior. We have a choice whether or not to photograph, observe, watch, or whatever. Very few other species have such choices. The idea that a bird which has been harassed simply needs to move somewhere where there is no photographer, is utter nonsense. Each wild creature is exactly where they are because that is where they have to be. Because of the amount of habitat already altered or destroyed by humans, there is intense competition for certain habitats amongst the creatures that make their livings there. If your house burns down, can you just walk across the street and move into your neighbors house? Of course not. Well, it's the same with birds. There are cases where there isn't enough wintering habitat to go around, and too many birds are making use of too little habitat. In worst case scenarios, they all might starve if no other area is available. Beyond the problem of displacement, is the issue of disturbance itself. You are quite correct that each species has a different level of tolerance for human disturbance. But how do we know what that is? I would suggest that very few of us have any idea at all what the threshold is before human disturbance begins to cause serious harm. For many species, no one knows. It takes years of research to learn these things, and for most species, we still don't know enough about their basic biology, let alone detailed time budgets for their daily routines.
I have worked with all of this before with one species, the Brant. For years we heard the argument that the Brant could go elsewhere. Well, it turns out that they can't. They need to be exactly where they have been staging for as long as we have been keeping track of them. And even when they are disturbed to the point that they are unfit to continue their migration or successfully reproduce once they get to the breeding grounds, they will continue to stage in areas where they are continually harassed by humans and their pets. The disturbance eats into their time budgets, and soon they are burning more calories avoiding people and their dogs, than they are adding calories. What we are seeing on the east coast of Vancouver Island, is that even in areas where the habitat has been designated as a Wildlife Management Area, and protected from development and degradation by neighboring human activities so that it is still in excellent condition, the birds cannot access it because humans have made the decision that it is more important to exercise their dogs there. And even though it is a crime, 7 out of ten people will tell you that they would rather go to court and face a judge than alter their behavior. Why? Because they refuse to believe that they are hurting the goose by flushing it off the beach. And no amount of data or science is going to change their minds.
This thread started with a hypothetical question about possible problems associated with using flashes for photography. It seems to have grown into a larger discussion about ethical photography overall, and hopefully, about ethical wildlife viewing in general. I think there is a serious lack of concern for what is actually a very serious issue. Human disturbance of wildlife is a serious problem. Every bit as serious as habitat loss. Especially in the Georgia Basin.
By Guy L. Monty
#7503
This has been posted before, but I think it's time for a reminder?

American Birding Association's
PRINCIPLES OF BIRDING ETHICS
Everyone who enjoys birds and birding must always respect wildlife, its environment, and the rights of others. In any conflict of interest between birds and birders, the welfare of the birds and their environment comes first.

CODE OF BIRDING ETHICS

1. Promote the welfare of birds and their environment.
1(a) Support the protection of important bird habitat.

1(b) To avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger, exercise restraint and caution during observation, photography, sound recording, or filming.

Limit the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds, and never use such methods in heavily birded areas, or for attracting any species that is Threatened, Endangered, or of Special Concern, or is rare in your local area;

Keep well back from nests and nesting colonies, roosts, display areas, and important feeding sites. In such sensitive areas, if there is a need for extended observation, photography, filming, or recording, try to use a blind or hide, and take advantage of natural cover.

Use artificial light sparingly for filming or photography, especially for close-ups.

1(c) Before advertising the presence of a rare bird, evaluate the potential for disturbance to the bird, its surroundings, and other people in the area, and proceed only if access can be controlled, disturbance minimized, and permission has been obtained from private land-owners. The sites of rare nesting birds should be divulged only to the proper conservation authorities.

1(d) Stay on roads, trails, and paths where they exist; otherwise keep habitat disturbance to a minimum.

2. Respect the law, and the rights of others.
2(a) Do not enter private property without the owner's explicit permission.

2(b) Follow all laws, rules, and regulations governing use of roads and public areas, both at home and abroad.

2(c) Practise common courtesy in contacts with other people. Your exemplary behavior will generate goodwill with birders and non-birders alike.

3. Ensure that feeders, nest structures, and other artificial bird environments are safe.
3(a) Keep dispensers, water, and food clean, and free of decay or disease. It is important to feed birds continually during harsh weather.

3(b) Maintain and clean nest structures regularly.

3(c) If you are attracting birds to an area, ensure the birds are not exposed to predation from cats and other domestic animals, or dangers posed by artificial hazards.

4. Group birding, whether organized or impromptu, requires special care.
Each individual in the group, in addition to the obligations spelled out in Items #1 and #2, has responsibilities as a Group Member.

4(a) Respect the interests, rights, and skills of fellow birders, as well as people participating in other legitimate outdoor activities. Freely share your knowledge and experience, except where code 1(c) applies. Be especially helpful to beginning birders.

4(b) If you witness unethical birding behavior, assess the situation, and intervene if you think it prudent. When interceding, inform the person(s) of the inappropriate action, and attempt, within reason, to have it stopped. If the behavior continues, document it, and notify appropriate individuals or organizations.

Group Leader Responsibilities [amateur and professional trips and tours].

4(c) Be an exemplary ethical role model for the group. Teach through word and example.

4(d) Keep groups to a size that limits impact on the environment, and does not interfere with others using the same area.

4(e) Ensure everyone in the group knows of and practices this code.

4(f) Learn and inform the group of any special circumstances applicable to the areas being visited (e.g. no tape recorders allowed).

4(g) Acknowledge that professional tour companies bear a special responsibility to place the welfare of birds and the benefits of public knowledge ahead of the company's commercial interests. Ideally, leaders should keep track of tour sightings, document unusual occurrences, and submit records to appropriate organizations.

PLEASE FOLLOW THIS CODE AND DISTRIBUTE AND TEACH IT TO OTHERS
The American Birding Association's Code of Birding Ethics may be freely reproduced for distribution/dissemination. Please acknowledge the role of ABA in developing and promoting this code with a link to the ABA website using the url <http://americanbirding.org>. Thank you.
By daddyhominum
#7514
Seems to be spot on with respect to photography.
"1(b) To avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger, exercise restraint and caution during observation, photography, sound recording, or filming.

Limit the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds, and never use such methods in heavily birded areas, or for attracting any species that is Threatened, Endangered, or of Special Concern, or is rare in your local area;

Keep well back from nests and nesting colonies, roosts, display areas, and important feeding sites. In such sensitive areas, if there is a need for extended observation, photography, filming, or recording, try to use a blind or hide, and take advantage of natural cover.

Use artificial light sparingly for filming or photography, especially for close-ups."
#17961
We've never taken flash photos of birds and of course have had our problems but get to know your camera and you can take excellent photos of those lovely owls in the trees in the daytime. It takes time and lots of throw aways but the birds are better off for your consideration of their space and comfort.
#17969
Quite a humerous discussion.

First the guidelines are posted, to wit:

"Keep well back from nests and nesting colonies, roosts, display areas, and important feeding sites. In such sensitive areas, if there is a need for extended observation, photography, filming, or recording, try to use a blind or hide, and take advantage of natural cover.

Use artificial light sparingly for filming or photography, especially for close-ups. "

Then one is enjoined not to use a flash photographing owls. Doesn't keeping well back and using a flash on owls create an impossibility?

Most of this stuff is "do as I say not as I do" Think about the hundreds of photographers that crowd the banks of the Squamish River for views of eagles, the dozens who daily crowd the shores of the Esquimalt Lagoon, the hoards who walk the trails of Reifel exulting in how close they can get to the Sandhill Cranes, and, finally, the commercial exploitation of Brandt geese by Parksville each year.

All these are 'permissible' applications of the ethics but a flash photo of a single bird probably once in a lifetime is a terrible thing?
What about the captive birds in zoos and aviaries ? Aren't they repeatedly 'flashed' and survive?

I am not a photographer, but until you read a headline declaring that a bird was killed by a photographer's flash, you can ethically continue to use flash without harming any bird, especially as you will only get close enough to flash the partially tamed birds in places such as those listed above.
If you actually are a bird watcher, you will almost certainly never get close enough to a wild bird to use your flash.

Dennis
#17971
We really don't go running out to stand with hundreds of other photographers to get a photo of some rare bird that has been posted because it does interfere with their daily routines. As for flash on owls, they lose the ability to see for awhile if you are using the flash in dark situations. This could interfere with their hunting. You may not realize it but it is possible to get too close to a bird.
Also, we really don't have much regard for places that keep birds and other animals in small enclosures that are way too small for them and have flashing photos taken day after day which they cannot get away from. It doesn't sound like a very comfortable life.
I don't think that it is really humerous at all to treat nature in a manner that we would not want to be treated ourselves. The Brant festival and other bird festivals are held with more respect to the birds than you think. There are guidelines for the visitors to these festivals in order to protect the birds. The festivals are held to help educate us about these wonderful creatures, not to annoy and interfere with them. Please think about the guidelines for birdwatching and try to follow them. After all, it really wouldn't hurt to try.
#17975
It's been pointed out to me via private e-mail that I was out of line in using quotation marks and then not quoting the author properly.

My post should have read as follows;


"...the commercial exploitation of Brandt geese by Parksville each year."

My sincere apologies. I was just trying to fix what I'm sure was an unintentional spelling mistake.

I am still interested in learning about commercial exploitation of Brant.
#18082
Touchy subject, thanks to all who have dared to venture in here (i know i've resisted) :lol:

Yeh, i use a Better Beamer sometimes, i usually do test shots to determine if it is needed as i like natural-looking shots as much as everyone else.
My flash exposure compensation setting is always set to at least -2, which limits the amount of light emitted. shots that look like you used flash are not cool.
I use flash sometimes to cut back on shadows and bring out detail in certain subjects.
There are certainly times when i wouldn't use flash, those times include any reported Rare bird that other birders are either looking for (or are looking at) and most owls. There are exceptions such as the mangrove night trip with Chencho to look for Potoo in San Blas, he used a spotlight but it was always briefly and the birds didn't flinch.
In Thailand Mr. Samarn (famous Thai wildlife photographer) used a flashlight on the resident nighthawk on his property so i could get a shot and while i never used a flash at the Salton Sea i don't think the Burrowing owls there would even notice a flash going off, the use of might however break down distracting shadows and make for a better image.

I'm talking from a photogs point of view here and since i consider myself a hybrid i can also relate to the birders, see i think if more photographers really took the time to learn their birds there wouldn't be so many problems, i think.

Photographers are short-changing themselves if they don't learn their birds anyways, know the species and you are able to anticipate it's next move, what perch it's going to hop on next etc. etc., super useful for catching warblers and kinglets in action.
even uber perch set-up master photographer Alan Murphy lists "becoming a better birder" as his #1 tip for becoming a better bird photographer.

Birders too can learn from photographers though, I've noticed birders often come, see the bird, check it off, and then leave, sometimes within minutes of arriving.
A photographer when waiting for the "perfect shot" will just look for long periods of time, shooting sparingly if the subject is foraging or perched.
Those extended periods of watching are the best times for me, as one catches those little moments hidden from casual observation.
I know i veered off subject i bit but it's all related in a way.
That's about all i'll say, hope no one takes it the wrong way because it's better when we all get along. :)
#18162
Are you saying the commercial exploitation of the geese is done by a charitable organization ?
Do you believe the givers enter there 'donations' as gifts in their ledgers?

If you answered yes to the above, do you want to buy as bridge I own in downtown Victoria, popularly called, "the Blue Bridge"?

Dennis
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