CODE OF BIRDING ETHICS
The interests of birds come first
Birds respond to people in many ways, depending on the species, location and time of year.
Disturbance can keep birds from their nests, leaving chicks hungry or enabling predators to take eggs or young.
During cold weather or when migrants have just made a long flight, repeatedly flushing birds can mean they use up vital energy that they need for feeding. Intentional or reckless disturbance of some species at or near the nest is illegal in Britain.
Whether your particular interest is photography, ringing, sound-recording or birdwatching, remember that the interests of the bird must always come first.
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.
1(b)(i)Avoid chasing, repeatedly flushing, excessive use of squeakers, "pishing" and recordings, especially during nesting season.
1(b)(ii) 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;
1(b)(iii) Repeatedly playing a recording of birdsong or calls to encourage a bird to respond can divert a territorial bird from other important duties, such as feeding its young. Never use playback to attract a species during its breeding season.
1(b)(iv) Keep well back from nests and nesting colonies, roosts, display areas, and important feeding sites to avoid disturbance and exposure to predators. 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.
How to Recognise Stressed Bird Behaviour:
• Birds try to attract your attention by flying in front of you
• Birds try to lure you away from a position
• Birds carrying food, perched at one position for a long time
• Birds carrying nesting material, perched at one position for a long time
• Birds giving alarm call – it’s important to learn your calls!
1(b)(v) Birds, nests, or eggs must not be handled except for recognized research.
1(b)(vi) Use artificial light sparingly for filming or photography, especially for close-ups. High intensity spot lights should not be shone directly on a bird, but at an oblique angle, when carrying out night photography
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 and trusted source.
1(d) Stay on roads, trails, and paths where they exist; otherwise keep habitat disturbance to a minimum.
1(e) Be an ambassador for birdwatching
1(f) Send your sightings and support species and site conservation and build the ornithological history eg. MNS-BCC Suara Enggang Bulletin, MNS-BCC Records committee
1(g) Think about your fieldcraft. Disturbance is not just about going too close - a flock of wading birds on the foreshore can be disturbed from a mile away if you stand on the seawall.
1(h) You can get involved in monitoring schemes
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.
2(d) Being quiet is simple courtesy. In residential areas, before 9 a.m., keep voices low, vehicle noises to a minimum.
2(e) Never stop your vehicle in a traffic lane to view birds. Always pull completely onto the shoulder to conduct short-term or long-term viewing. No shoulder? Don't stop.
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.
3(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.
3(b) Minimize unnecessary talk and noise to avoid disturbing birds so that they can be seen by all participants.
3(c) Follow the leaders' pace to allow special sightings to be shared by the entire group.
3(d) 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].
3(e) Be an exemplary ethical role model for the group. Teach through word and example.
3(f) Keep groups to a size that limits impact on the environment, and does not interfere with others using the same area.
3(g) Ensure everyone in the group knows of and practises this code.
3(h) Learn and inform the group of any special circumstances applicable to the areas being visited (e.g. no tape recorders allowed).
3(i) 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.
MNS-Bird Conservation Council
1. The American Birding Association's Code of Birding Ethics. website http://americanbirding.org
2. The Ten Commandments of Birding by New Jersey Audubon Society
3. Birding Ethics of The Naturalists' Club of Broome County
4. RSPB Birdwatchers' Code of Conduct