Birdwatching

Birdwatching or birding is the observation and study of birds with the naked eye or through a visual enhancement device like binoculars. Birding often involves a significant auditory component, as many bird species are more readily detected and identified by ear than by eye. Most birdwatchers pursue this activity mainly for recreational or social reasons, unlike ornithologists, who engage in the study of birds using more formal scientific methods. (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

 

What do you need for birdwatching?

  • The most basic equipment required for bird watching is your eyes. That´s true but you will soon need to have more items with you if you intend to make this a pastime or serious hobby. How far you go is a matter of taste and budget. 
  • The most useful thing that you can carry is a notepad and pencil. Use this to make a note of location, time, date, weather and habitat. Do a list of the birds that you see and know. Do a drawing or write down a description of those that you don’t. You can look them up later in you field guide. Your notebook should become a diary of where you have been and what you have seen. It will become a useful record as time passes. 
  • A Field guide is a book, normally illustrated with drawings or photographs, which provides descriptions of birds that assists you in their identification. The descriptions use several factors to help you determine the exact bird that you are looking at. As soon as you see a bird that you do not recognize you will need to have access a good field guide. There are many to choose from. They come in various shapes, sizes, weight and cost. 
  • Sites guides. These give locations where you can watch birds, the species you are likely to see and the best time to watch. 
  • Binoculars. These are pretty essential and buy the best that you can afford. A good pair well looked after will last you a lifetime. Take time to choose ones that suit you. 
  • Clothing. Bird watching being primarily an outdoor pursuit, it is sensible to have lightweight but warm and waterproof clothing. You will be more comfortable if you wear the right type of clothing for the conditions you are in.
  • Telescope. If you want to get a really close look at birds then you will need to get a bird watching scope and tripod. These are more expensive than binoculars but if you get to be serious about bird watching you will soon want to have them.  
  • Camera. A simple point and shoot digital camera is good if you are close to birds, especially if you have a zoom lens. If not close enough to shoot birds it is still good to take general views or mementos of your day out.  More expensive cameras, with telephoto lenses, can bring you close in to the birds.  
  • Digiscoping. You can take pictures via your Scope–using it as a telephoto lens. You will need attachments for your scope.  

 

Code of Birding Ethics

  1. Promote the welfare of birds and their environment.
    • Support the protection of important bird habitat.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Do not enter private property without the owner’s explicit permission.
    • Follow all laws, rules, and regulations governing use of roads and public areas, both at home and abroad.
    • Practice common courtesy in contacts 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.
    • Keep dispensers, water, and food clean, and free of decay or disease. It is important to feed birds continually during harsh weather.
    • Maintain and clean nest structures regularly.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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].
    • Be an exemplary ethical role model for the group. Teach through word and example.
    • Keep groups to a size that limits impact on the environment, and does not interfere with others using the same area.
    • Ensure everyone in the group knows of and practices this code.
    • Learn and inform the group of any special circumstances applicable to the areas being visited (e.g. no tape recorders allowed).
    • 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

The American Birding Association’s Code of Birding Ethics may be freely reproduced for distribution/dissemination. Please acknowledge the role of ABA in developing and promoting this code with a link to the ABA website using http://www.aba.org  - Thank you.