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By BirdingBC
Posting photos of owls always gets into the tricky, hot topic of ethical owl photography and is a widely debated subject among the birding community. Their are strong opinions across the spectrum of birders and wildlife photographers on whether to allow owl photos or not. Case in point is the affiliated Flicker group, Birds of British Columbia, which currently does not allow owl shots. The Flickr group Birds of British Columbia did allow owl photos when it started, but has since adopted the policy of no owls.

The stance of this website, Birding BC, is to allow photos of owls because frankly, it is bird species group that best attracts new participates as well as being a icon for conservation awareness--more than any other bird species group. However.... sharing and moderating owl photography is oil drum size can of worms and it comes with a disclaimer that your owl photo may be removed.

Because owl photography it is a hot topic, the requirement is to follow a more strict interpretation for ethical wildlife photography. The warning sticker for owl photos is "you will be judged" by people as they apply a Sherlock Holmes level of investigation to try to determine if the photo is deemed to be taken ethically or not. The issue is not the photo itself, it is entirely centered on how you obtained the photo.

For this website, a key factor is "does the photograph appear to be demonstrating an awareness of ethical field practices" so that the owl can be considered to be photographed ethically. This can't always be determined but if there is question, the moderator(s) will err on the side of conservation.

Rather then go into a long post here outlined all the things to consider, I am turning it over to two authors who have already outlined the issue at great length and have a path to owl photos that are considered ethical.

Some reading:
On the ethics of owl photography - Christian Artuso's blog
I think this article does a good job of outlining the issues, mistakes, and finding an ethical way to work within the issue so as to get that ethical shot. ... s-and.html

Photographing Roosting Owls: How To Know You’re Doing It Right -- Andy McGann
Andy sums up issues and if you read the comments, you get a drift of one of the many facets of the debate. ... -it-right/

Further References ... hotography ... otography/ ... lower.html

Clear as mud? If only it were that simple.

Good birding
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