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Birder's Code of Ethics

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Principles of Birding Ethics

Everyone who enjoys birds and birding must always respect wildlife, its environment and the rights of others. In any conflict of interest between birds and birders, the welfare of the birds and their environment comes first.

Code of Birding Ethics

  1. Promote the welfare of birds and their environment.
    1. Support the protection of important bird habitat.
    2. 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, or 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. Use artificial light sparingly for filming or photography, especially for close-ups.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    1. Do not enter private property without the owner's explicit permission.
    2. Follow all laws, rules and regulations governing use of roads and public areas, both at home and abroad.
    3. Practice common courtesy in contact with other people. Your exemplary behavior will generate goodwill with birders and non-birders alike.
  3. Ensure that feeders, nest structures and other artificial bird environments are safe.
    1. Keep dispensers, water, and food clean, and free of decay or disease. It is important to feed birds continually during harsh weather.
    2. Maintain and clean nest structures regularly.
    3. If you are attracting birds to an area, ensure the birds are not exposed to predation from cats and other domestic animals or dangers posed by artificial hazards.
  4. 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.
    1. 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.
    2. If you witness unethical birding behavior, assess the situation and intervene if you think it is 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. Be an exemplary ethical role model for the group. Teach through word and example.
    4. Keep groups to a size that limits impact on the environment and does not interfere with others using the same area.
    5. Ensure everyone in the group knows of and practices this code.
    6. Learn and inform the group of any special circumstances applicable to the areas being visited (e.g. no tape recorders allowed).
    7. 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.

Please follow this code and distribute and teach it to others. Thank you.


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References to Other Bird Sites:

These are links to websites pertaining to the different birding institutions, societies and organizations here in North America. Some of these same sites are a great asset to seeking out knowledge on birds in other regions of the world. Each of these links offer the user different methods to identify birds, whether it be by regions, habitat, appearance or maybe colour. Knowledge on the possibilities of where and what birds might be present are included.

Avibase - the world bird database This site provides the user with a complete list of bird species, broken down per country, or in the example of the US or Canada, per state and province. Here, bird species names are available in other languages, a great asset to be used as a translation of foreign bird names.

ABA - American Birding Association This site represents an organization that maintains official records of all birds species that have been proven to have been seen inside the perimeters of the North American Continent and the surrounding bodies of water. Regular revised versions are posted to keep the bird list current at all times. This is the list used by all serious birders over their lifetime. You may be aware of the movie called the "Big Year". It was with this list that all the competing birders used in an attempt to set a new record as to how many bird species that could be seen by an individual birder in one calendar year.



The description to follow is taken from the AOS Home Page.

AOS - The American Ornitholgy Society is an international society devoted to advancing the scientific understanding of birds, enriching ornithology as a profession, and promoting a rigorous scientific basis for the conservation of birds. As one of the world's oldest and largest ornithological societies, AOS produces scientific publications of the highest quality, hosts intellectually engaging and professionally vital meetings, serves ornithologists at every career stage, pursues a global perspective, and informs public policy on all issues important to ornithology and ornithological collections. AOS is distinguished by its tremendous collective expertise, including eminent scientists, conservation practitioners, early career innovators, and students.

eBird - TheCornellLab of OrnithologyeBird is a must for any individual, who has an interest in birds. This site allows users to sign up and participate in recording birds seen on a daily basis as well as the location, for any bird species seen in the world. In addition, users can use the existing data to search out the location of bird species throughout the year. By using filters, information as to the movements can be determined. Photos can be added to identify individual birds. Migration pattern can be calculated using information by months or years as needed. Range maps can be verified, allowing the users to see where the presence of individual bird species are expected to be at certain times of the year.

NA - National Geographic The Society of National Geographic provides some of the best books available for those who have an interest in birds. The book called "The Complete Birds of North America", is a book recommended to be part of any birders library. This book covers all the native and vagrant species of birds seen on the North American Continent. It provides information on all the birds listed on the ABA bird list. This book goes into great details, describing the individual species and their races. That aside, their website provides wonderful information pertaining to many articles regarding nature.


I hope you will take advantage of these suggested websites. I have used each of them, in one way or another, throughout the years in my quest to better identify and understand our fine feathered friends.

Classic Collection of North American Birds

CCNAB