Nature & You: Is there an ethical way to watch birds?
Is there an ethical way to watch birds?
The world is a very busy place. It is chock full of laws, rules and regulations. There are some people who say we already have more than enough; they even go so far as to say we need to whittle down that list to a much leaner number.
Let's talk about recreational bird-watching. Even that avocational pursuit is bound by legal restrictions on what you can do.
Bird-watching, however, is tied to a set of self-imposed suggestions for what constitutes acceptable behavior. It is the bird-watching code of ethics. Bird watchers police their own ranks pretty well; those uncaring persons who violate the code are ostracized and are not welcome at future bird-watching events. Even when nobody else is around to witness their behavior, the vast majority of responsible bird watchers are diligent to observe tenets set forth in the code of ethics.
Space limitations don't allow me to list them all. I do have room, however, to share with you two of the admonitions.
During the birds' courtship season, many birds are very vocal and can be identified by the peculiarities of their songs. In today's technological age, it is oh so easy to take bird song recordings along with you when you venture afield. The code of ethics cautions you to not play these song recordings excessively when you are outdoors. To do otherwise is to run the very real risk of unduly stressing the birds (because they will be duped into thinking that a bird interloper has taken over their nesting site).
The second rule has to do with bird nests. If you should happen to come upon an active nest, the code of ethics urges you to make a hasty retreat. You do not want your presence to cause the parent birds to abandon the nest and its occupants.
When it gets right down to it, any set of ethical guidelines are based on the basic tenet that we all need to behave as responsible adults.
It's as simple as that.
— Neil Garrison, NewsOK Contributor
Neil Garrison was the longtime naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center.