Principles of Birding Ethics

Rochester Birding Association reminds all birders to remember that your actions in the field can have repercussions on birds and other birders.  Follow all road rules, stay off private property unless permission is granted, stay on trails or roads, stay far enough away from birds to not affect their behavior.  Your exemplary behavior will generate goodwill with birders and non-birders alike. 

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.

There is a 24/7 dispatch line to the DEC Conservation officers for complaints at 1-877-457-5680. When you make a report, the dispatcher knows who to call to respond the fastest. Please put this number in your cell phone. When someone is exhibiting bad birding behavior, please try to get the name of the person or their license plate number and report it.

An excerpt from the American Birding Association Birders Code of 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, 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.

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 landowners. 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) Practice common courtesy in contacts with other people. Your exemplary behavior will generate goodwill with birders and non-birders alike.

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