Disturbance to wildlife by recreational birders

Subject: Disturbance to wildlife by recreational birders
From: Richard Jordan <>
Date: Mon, 10 Mar 1997 18:09:15 +1100 (EST)
Amazing! When we first raised the topic of recorder playback with the RAOU
Conservation Committee more than a year ago (in a letter of 6/1/96)- with a
subsequent call for comment in Wingspan of June 1996 - there was apparently
very little reaction. We also introduced the topic of large-scale feeding to
attract birds (and other wildlife) for close observation. Now we return from
a week away to find a veritable storm on 'birding-aus'. With views ranging
from those who want to 'blitz' the birds with spotlight, tape recorder and
electronic flash to those who favour a gentler approach.

As people who work in the 'commercial' birding field we sometimes feel under
pressure to provide the ultimate bird list at any cost. But we are also
aware that there are many (a majority?) who appreciate an attitude that
shows concern and respect for birds and other wildlife. We are also
regulated by the permit conditions of Federal and State authorities, and the
codes of practice of tour operators associations. These usually emphasise
minimum disturbance to wildlife. Certainly commercial operators are not all
squeaky-clean - but they are relatively easy to regulate.

As conservation issues these matters seem peripheral. But as education
issues they are most important. Conservation will ultimately depend upon the
attitudes of ordinary people - and these attitudes may be much influenced by
the sort of people who subscribe to birding-aus. Some disturbance to
wildlife is unavoidable if we are to get people close to nature so as to
interest and inform. But how much is acceptable? 

It would certainly assist us to have a guiding policy from the RAOU. The
hard data on the influence of these disturbances are lacking - but is this
not principally a matter of attitudes?

A copy of our submission to the RAOU Conservation Committee is available on

Richard Jordan and Christine Wilder

Richard Jordan and Christine Wilder
PO Box 4
Jamberoo, NSW 2533, Australia

phone +61 42 360542
fax   +61 42 360176

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