It was my pleasure to present to the St Johns County Audubon Society last night. My seminar, entitled “Ethical Bird Photography” was well-attended and the questions were thoughtful. This is a well-informed audience!
Wildlife photography is a wonderful hobby for some, but it has the potential to harm fragile species if we do not monitor the behavior of the over-zealous few. There are stories of inconsiderate or downright illegal activities from eco-tour operators as well as ignorant photographers seeking self-affirmation on Instagram or Facebook.
As a photography instructor, I pledge to teach my students and coach my colleagues in the following:
Ethical Bird Photography Guidelines
- Avoid causing unnecessary disturbance. Keep your distance, use blinds or natural cover, and stick to natural lighting. (I never use flash)
- Nesting birds are vulnerable, and need special consideration.
- Never lure hawks or owls with live bait.
- Don’t use sound playback.
- Show respect for property and consideration for other people.
- Promote the welfare of birds and their environment. Learn their behavior and signs of stress.
- Ensure that any backyard feeders are safe and kept clean.
- Group birding requires special care. Encourage others you travel with to follow these codes of ethics to promote better understanding.
- Never share a nest location publicly on social media.
- If you observe an overzealous shooter, point out the dangers this behavior poses to the wildlife we all strive to protect.
- If the violator persists, report the location and description to the FWC.