This area is for general discussion on Birds and Birding.
This is a surprisingly poor article, and not just on account of the ludicrous notion that it's ok to rob birds of their eyesight temporarily, because they rely mainly on hearing. Knd of tough to hear branches, hydro wires, cell phone towers, and barbed wire fences while you are hurdling through the dark at 25 miles an hour relying on your hearing to locate prey, isn't it? Several studies in England have shown that temporary blinding by headlights along highways is one of the chief causes of owls striking wires and fencelines.

Note that the article does not even touch on the problem of the cumulative effects of disturbance. Again, we go back to previous discussions, where the difference between one person taking a couple of shots in one solitary instance, vs. one person taking hundreds of shots, vs. several people taking photos, vs, many people taking many photos, and so on.

The part of the article that bothers me the most, is the paragraph where it talks about the educational value of a photo justifying disturbance. This holds no merit whatsoever, and this "ends justifying the means" argument has been used countless times in courts of law where it has been roundly rejected in matters such as these.

And speaking of law, it amuses me that this is the one area which is so often overlooked in these discussions. Ethics are one thing, but there are also laws involved in some of these matters. A few years ago it took Conservation Officers to stem the tide of stupidity going on in Boundary Bay. Not a lot of wiggle room or arguments about your rights to get photos or tick a species for your life list when law enforcement catches you intentionally disturbing wildlife in a designated Wildlife Management Area.


Guy L. Monty
Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island, BC
There is just so much common sense involved in not flashing a nocturnal owl at night.The evidence is overwhelming about the potential harm to birds.One of the birds posted is an endangered species according to bird life international.The article also states repeated flash of birds or animals in this situation is not advocated.I have a hard time thinking the shutter and flash was only fired once and a perfectly lighted and focused picture was obtained.Another topic maybe for another date is the ethics of pro guides and photographers and do they step over the line occasionally when there is financial gain involved with the selling of photos and promoting their own bird related business.Thanks Ted Ardley
birder wrote:Just thought I would bring this up again in light of recent pics of nocturnal birds being flashed at night.The following is about the most favorable article I can find but even it says eyesight very reduced for 10-15 minutes where full function takes 1 hr.Using the excuse that their hearing can compensate just does not wash with me.Why even take the chance this bird can be harmed by predators or hurt itself.I would think it needs at night it's full senses at all times.I personally would find it scary to have reduced eyesight for any period of time just for the sake of a picture.

Flash as main light in dim light conditions can produce a temporary reduction in vision but not permanent damage.
In total darkness, use of flash may cause a temporary reduction in vision for 5-20 minutes. It takes one hour of dark conditioning to achieve maximum electrical responses from rod cells in the retina. The regeneration of rod function even after "bleaching" by a bright light is not linear with time. Animals and birds probably have 50% return of function in the first five minutes, and 75% in another five minutes. The rods are rapidly moving from zero function to full sensitivity during that time, with the greatest return of function per time unit occurring in the first 10-15 minutes.
Because of the initial impairment of vision from flash in total darkness, repeated flash of birds or animals in this situation is not advocated. Ethical nature photographers avoid altering their subject’s behavior. The judicious use of flash in completely dark situations causing a brief vision alteration must be offset by the educational value of the photograph made. Technically excellent pictures of owls and other animals in their natural environment made at night with flash may, in the end, benefit the species as a result of increased public awareness. In select situations, the use of flash may be justified. Many nocturnal species rely upon other senses in combination with vision during dim or dark conditions; for example, the auditory capabilities of owls at night are probably far more important for hunting as compared with the visual sense.
Thanks Ted Ardley
Isn't this part of the article i posted above a while back that no one bothered to comment on?
Hi Paul.When this thread was started I must of completely missed it but a quick net search does bring up the article you posted.In light of the recent photos posted it seems people are commenting on it now.Thanks Ted
I don't know Paul. It might be. I have been away from the computer in the bush for a period of time, purposefully avoiding birding groups for a time, and I also just plain miss things fairly frequently, just because there is so much to keep up with. I would guess it is more or less the same with others? Sometimes we just miss things.

Guy L. Monty
Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island, BC

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