Birding Ethics and Conservation
"When you watch wildlife without causing a reaction, you are seeing what is truly wild." - Mark Duda
- Never disturb a nest, den, or other nursery area. Move slowly and quietly.
- Observe from a distance. Get a "closeup" look by using binoculars, scopes, and telephoto lenses on cameras. If the birds alter their behavior because of you, you are too close.
- Do not interfere with activity of the species being observed. Learn and respect the patterns and routines of their behavior.
Practice principles of "leave no trace":
- Carry out what you carry in
- Avoid picking and destruction of vegetation
- Don't handle wildlife or birds
- Leave what you find
- Stay on designated trails and roads to avoid damaging habitat
- Respect private property and restricted areas.
- Respect the experience of other observers. Be quiet and refrain from using tobacco products.
- Be aware of the cumulative effect of a human presence; you are one of many other observers.
- Avoid feeding, baiting, or using recorded calls and lures to attract wildlife. (Does not apply to bird feeders.)
- Federal law prohibits the collection of bird nests or feathers unless you hold a collectors' permit.
- Share your experiences with others – allowing a novice to use your spotting scope could create a convert for conservation.
- Spend as much money on conservation as you do on birding. Support the parks and refuges you visit.
- Be aware of your own abilities, and act within those limits.
- Know the rules and regulations of the area you are visiting.
Learn the warning signs that a bird or animal feels threatened.The bird or wildlife:
- Walks, runs, or flies away.
- Threatens, dives or circles.
- Stops behavior/freezes.
- Exhibits nervous behavior such as: acts jumpy, raises ears or lays back ears, or looks towards you. Some birds may raise their crest or flare their wings when facing a threat.
- Changes direction of travel.
- Vocalizes (snorting, hissing, beak popping, etc.).
- Some birds will exhibit a broken wing display when threatened.
- If you suspect that you are threatening an animal, step back or leave the area.