Ethics in Bird-Photography

To: Denise Goodfellow <>
Subject: Ethics in Bird-Photography
From: Andrew Thelander <>
Date: Wed, 5 Jun 2013 14:54:13 +1000
Hi Tom & Denise

Here's a good game for a rainy day. Get out all your bird books and closely 
examine the photos of nesting birds. You will see that some of the nests are 
exposed and in light (rather than being hidden away from the view of 
predators). In some of the photos, you will see that the adult birds appear 
stressed and annoyed. You might like to ask why this is so. Could it be that a 
photographer has pruned back the foliage to get a better shot?

I have seen some heartbreaking examples of this in books. I suspect that 
nesting success was compromised.

Denise is spot on - do not show nesting birds to irresponsible photographers!


On 05/06/2013, at 12:28 PM, Denise Goodfellow wrote:

> Tom
> One of the most often mentioned dislikes in my research on US birders was
> photographers who did this sort of thing.
> As a guide I occasionally have had to stop this sort of behaviour.  My
> approach is not to show clients nesting birds.
> Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow
> PO Box 71, NT 0841
> 043 8650 835
> On 5/6/13 9:06 AM, "Tom Tarrant" <> wrote:
>> Recently a birding-friend asked me an interesting question regarding
>> bird-photography ethics, he found a picture in the National Geographic
>> magazine that showed an adult bird feeding a fledgling away from the nest
>> on a rather artificial-looking perch and wondered if the young bird had
>> been taken from the nest by a photographer to create a 'better-looking'
>> photograph.
>> H
>> e sent me a link to the photo but I'm not going to post it publicly, as it
>> could be legitimate and he doesn't want to unfairly accuse someone but he
>> would like to approach Nat Geo regarding the matter.
>> This is part of what he wrote:
>> ***"I don't want unfairly publicly accuse someone. I may write directly to
>> National Geographic but I want to canvas the views of a few experts first.
>> Would you also be able to discreetly ask acquaintances you think may be
>> able to give an informed opinion or help provide a suitable response to
>> NatGeo? There are many other photos on the internet showing chicks which I
>> suspect were removed from their nests in the quest for a clearer shot. I've
>> heard of a number of cases of nest abandonment due to excessive and very
>> close approaches by photographers. Saw more than 10 photographers in Kaeng
>> Krachan (Thailand) crowding rather too closely around an Orange-bellied
>> Trogon on a nest. Although I don't know what the outcome was in that one.*
>> "
>> Would love to hear your opinion on the subject either on this forum or
>> indirectly to me and I will pass on any messages. I will also cross-post
>> this on the Orientalbirding mailing-list.
>> Tom
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Andrew Thelander
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