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Clearly the photographers in the video violated the posted signs about the Snowy Owls.  They also violated the ABA Code of Ethics.

Based on one of the postings, I'm posting the American Birding Association Code of Ethics
, which states:

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(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, 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.

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.

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.

3. Ensure that feeders, nest structures, and other artificial bird environments are safe.

3(a) Keep dispensers, water, and food clean, and free of decay or disease. It is important to feed birds continually during harsh weather.

3(b) Maintain and clean nest structures regularly.

3(c) 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.

4(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.

4(b) 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].

4(c) Be an exemplary ethical role model for the group. Teach through word and example.

4(d) Keep groups to a size that limits impact on the environment, and does not interfere with others using the same area.

4(e) Ensure everyone in the group knows of and practices this code.

4(f) Learn and inform the group of any special circumstances applicable to the areas being visited (e.g. no tape recorders allowed).

4(g) 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 the url http://www.aba.org. Thank you.



Marc D. Lund
St. Louis County


"Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth."

                                                                                         - Shirley Anita Chisholm



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--- On Sat, 2/18/12, Chris Corben <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

From: Chris Corben <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: How to flush a Snowy Owl
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Saturday, February 18, 2012, 9:31 PM

Hi all

I have often noted with interest how much effort is expended by birders heaping distaste on other birders. Maybe it's to be welcomed that this isn't an overtly selfish thing, as it would be if we said they shouldn't have flushed the Snowy Owl because it might reduce our chances of seeing it. But still, birding is a past-time shared by a very wide range of people who often don't have much else in common.  So I think a degree of tolerance is really important to us!

I also think we should get a little bit of perspective into this. In the big scheme of things, flushing a Snowy Owl is a very little crime against nature compared to driving across the state to see one! And I freely admit I would have done that if I'd had time. Right now in Australia, two very beautiful species of parrot are in dire danger of extinction. Rather than beating up on other birders, perhaps we should consider the possibility they might share our unhappiness with this situation, and stress things we may have in common, rather than things we might do differently.

So, I'd like to give those people the benefit of the doubt, and suggest their motivation may have been just as pure as ours - the desire to witness something of rare beauty! Having been fortunate enough to have seen a couple of Snowy Owls in flight, I wouldn't want to deprive anyone of that experience!

Cheers, Chris.

------------------------------------------------------------
The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
ASM Spring Meeting: April 27, 2012 in Joplin, MO
http://www.mobirds.org/ASM/Meetings.aspx
------------------------------------------------------------
The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
ASM Spring Meeting: April 27, 2012 in Joplin, MO
http://www.mobirds.org/ASM/Meetings.aspx