Site icon The Woodlands Township Environmental Services

The 3 Rules all Birders Need to Know

Birding is one of the fastest growing outdoor activities in the country. Formerly known as “birdwatchers,” birders come from all walks of life, running the gamut of professions, age, and locales. There are as many varieties of birders as there are birds – and as many reasons we enjoy it.

Whether deep in the woods or standing at the kitchen window, birding strengthens our connection to the outdoors. Birds draw us in with their complex behaviors, beautiful plumage and captivating melodies. They can be observed day and night, alone or with a group, competitively or casually. I do most of my birding while engaging in other activities like walking in the park, weeding the garden, and sipping my morning coffee. Birders also contribute mightily to the scientific world by reporting their observations through apps like Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird and Merlin Bird ID.

If you want to get a little more serious about your birding, try challenging yourself: quickly check off a list, learn to identify calls, or improve your observation skills by identifying birds in flight.

In 2015, an Oregon man visited 41 countries, across all 7 continents, and recorded 6,042 species of birds observed in just one year. There are an estimated 10,400 known bird species on Earth.

Regardless of what form birding takes, we are all held to an important code of ethics that ensures birders and birds alike are only positively impacted by this ever-growing pursuit.

The American Birding Association and National Audubon Society recommend the following guidelines:

1. Respect and promote birds and their environment. 

(a) Support the conservation of birds and their habitats.  

(b) Avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger.  

(c) Always minimize habitat disturbance.  

Outdoor cat owners are encouraged to put a bell on the cat’s collar to protect birds from silent, stalking felines.

2. Respect and promote the birding community and its individual members. 

(a) Be an ethical role model by following this Code and leading by example. Always bird and report with honesty and integrity. 

(b) Respect the interests, rights, and skill levels of fellow birders, as well as people participating in other outdoor activities. Freely share your knowledge and experience and be especially helpful to beginning birders. 

(c) Share bird observations freely, provided such reporting would not violate other sections of this Code, as birders, ornithologists, and conservationists derive considerable benefit from publicly available bird sightings. 

(d) Approach instances of perceived unethical birding behavior with sensitivity and respect; try to resolve the matter in a positive manner, keeping in mind that perspectives vary. Use the situation as an opportunity to teach by example and to introduce more people to this Code. 

(e) In group birding situations, share your knowledge of this Code of Ethics with the group to ensure the group does not unduly interfere with others using the same area. 

3. Respect and promote the law and the rights of others. 

(a) Never enter private property without the landowner’s permission. Respect the interests of and interact positively with people living in the area where you are birding. 

(b) Familiarize yourself with and follow all laws, rules, and regulations governing activities at your birding location. In particular, be aware of regulations related to birds, such as disturbance of protected nesting areas or sensitive habitats, and the use of audio or food lures. 

By following these ethics, we ensure that both birders and the birds we admire experience safe and beneficial interactions.  

Check out these past articles on birding for beginners 

Bird is the Word 

Backyard Birds  


Want the latest articles delivered right to your inbox? Click the button to subscribe.

Skip to toolbar