Ethics of Bird Photography

Capturing the perfect shot of a beautiful bird doesn’t require you to go to great lengths. Instead, ensure that the birds you’re photographing maintain a certain level of safety.

When practicing bird photography, use the following guiding principles to ensure you have a successful and ethical experience.

  1. Avoid getting too close to the bird. Be aware of signs of nervousness and be prepared to back off when necessary. Remember, you have entered the bird’s home, so don’t overstay your welcome.
  2. Avoid startling birds or making them fly away, as this can interfere with reproduction and other natural patterns.
  3. Stay on existing pathways in order to protect the natural surroundings. Stepping on small plants and breaking branches as you walk can have harmful effects for the birds that live in the area.
  4. Use a longer lens to photograph bird nests. That way, you can still get great shots without disturbing the parents or their young.
  5. Use bird recordings and calls sparingly. If the birds hear imitation calls frequently, there is a chance that they will stop responding to other birds in the wild and their behavior may permanently change.
  6. When at all possible, avoid the use of spotlights and flash. The bright light can disturb the birds you’re shooting and may even cause them to abandon their nests.
  7. Avoid handling birds and disrupting their habitat. Do not pick up or touch the birds, rearrange twigs around their nests or remove objects from the area.
  8. Never feed the birds you’re photographing. This guideline also applies to other wildlife you may encounter.
  9. Remain as quiet as possible, so as not to disturb the birds. This can mean keeping your voice low or muting the beeping sounds on your camera.
  10. Maintain the wellbeing of the birds at all times. This should be your number one goal, as the safety of birds must come before getting a good photo.

Do you have any other tips for ethical bird photography? Share them in the comments below.

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