Code of Bird Watching Ethics American Birding Association
Please follow this code of bird watching ethics and teach the code of ethics to others.
Everyone who enjoys birds and bird watching must always respect wildlife, wildlife habitats, and the rights of other wildlife viewers and property owners.
For any conflict of interest between birds and birders, the welfare of the birds and their environment must come first.
CODE OF BIRD WATCHING 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
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.
Bird Watching Ethics and Etiquette
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.
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
Group Leader Responsibilities [amateur and professional trips and tours].
4(c) Be an exemplary ethical role model for the group. Teach through word and
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
Please follow this code of bird watching ethics and distribute and teach the
code of ethics to others.