I hope that this discussion is not the reason for the Yahoo Group shutdown...
I did review my photos (but am generally about 6 weeks behind in processing) and now think that when I took some photos of the LE Owl on Sunday at 72nd Street, its left eye may have been injured. I had noticed that the colour of the left and right eyes seemed to differ, but believed that the difference was due to one eye being in the sun and the other being in the shade. Now I'm not so sure. The underside of the left eye looks swollen.
Based upon my observations and my reading of the short article in NatGeo's Complete Birds of NA, my best guess would be that perhaps in pursuing a vole in the grass, the bird may have had some of the stiff grass stab it in this area.
It's not implausible that after sustaining the injury, the Owl was less willing to fly and hence more approachable than it would normally be. Close approaches may have further stressed the bird. However, such approaches could have been made by photographers, watchers, walkers, dogs and competing birds.
I have seen irritating behaviour WRT to Owl photography. I think I know who tore away the protective cover for a Saw-Whet at Reifel. I have encountered photographers who literally ran down the BB Dyke when someone had spotted a SE Owl. (I just encamped where I was, guessing that such people would simply flush the bird and hopefully it would come my way.)
But, unless injured, birds can fly away if they dislike the approach of humans or others. (Of course the uncovered Saw-Whet appeared frightened to me and I just looked at the fellow who was seemingly unwilling to leave it alone and walked away.)
I agree with the principles that others have espoused, but am uncomfortable with the qualitative nature attached to them. What is "too close"? What is harassment? I think in general birds live in a much more stressful world than we do and they are adapted to it. Not only do most have to watch for predators, but when they find a tasty morsel, they are immediately beset upon by their own kind and must flee and gobble it down while being chased. I've watched RW and YH Blackbirds chase after Crows when nesting. The Eastern Kingbird was also very aggressive towards other birds when nesting. This must be stressful too. Nature is not idyllic as in fairy tales, but full of fangs and claws.
Hopefully Common Sense can prevail. I hope I never encounter a self-appointed arbiter of wildlife photographic standards.
Below is a close crop of a photo of the LE Owl. Judge for yourself. I suspect that the left eye is injured. Taken last Sunday after some children had flushed it and it had flown into the grassy area by the dyke. After this photo was taken the Owl tried to flatten itself down as if seeking to hide. A very elegant looking bird.