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Code of Birding Ethics

American Birding Association's Code 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.

Promote the welfare of birds and their environment.

    1a Support the protection of important bird habitat.

    1b To avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger, exercise restraint and caution during observation, photography, sound recording, or filming.

    1c 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 can be minimized, and permission has been obtained from private landowners.

    1d Stay on roads, trails, and paths where they exist; otherwise keep habitat disturbance to a minimum.

Respect the law and the rights of others.

    2a Do not enter private property without the owner's explicit permission.

    2b Follow all laws, rules, and regulations governing the use of roads and public areas.

    2c Practice common courtesy when in contact with other people. Your exemplary behavior will generate goodwill with birders and non-birders alike.

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

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

    3b Maintain and clean nest structures regularly.

    3c If you are attracting birds to an area, ensure the birds are not exposed to predation from cats or other domestic animals, or dangers posed by artificial hazards.

Group birding, whether organized or impromptu, requires special care.

For Participants:

    4a Respect the interests, rights, and skills of fellow birders as well as those of people participating in legitimate outdoor activities. Be especially helpful to beginning birders.

    4b 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 behavior continues, document it and notify appropriate individuals or organizations.

For Group Leaders:

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

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

    4e Ensure that everyone in the group knows and practices this code.

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

    4g 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.


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