Codes of a Birdwatcher

Escrito em 26 de outubro de 2021

Codes of a Birdwatcher

Activities in nature, such as birdwatching, require some ethics and common sense. Respecting nature and biodiversity is vital to preserving natural areas. Plus, responsible behaviour will also allow us to better enjoy our experience outdoors. 

Here are some things to keep in mind:


  • Be an ambassador for birdwatching and put the interests of the birds first.

Seeing or photographing a bird have boundaries. Accept the fact that some species are hard to see and don’t try it at every cost. Instead, invest your time studying their behaviour better and keep trying other times.

Raise awareness for the benefits of birdwatching, both for the local communities and for the birds. 


  • Keep the distance from the birds.

If a bird flies away and is repeatedly making alarm calls, you are too close. The disturbance may force birds to leave the nest with eggs or chicks. Sometimes annoyance can also be from far away if you expose yourself too much in a habitat where a flock of birds want to land. Especially during migration, this may force a bird or flock to spend vital energy that it/they need(s) for feeding or spending the night.  

Finally, never try to touch, grab or pet a bird to satisfy our curiosity. The only exception is finding an injured bird and feeling comfortable and confident that taking it to a wildlife hospital could save its life.



  • Keep it quiet.

Put your phone in silence. Accept phone calls only if you really must. Talk quietly when with other people. Finally, and most importantly, don’t talk to the birds and never use playback to attract a species, especially during the breeding season. 

Remember, there are much more out there than birds. Keep also in mind that other birdwatchers might be in the local.



  • Leave no trace and take only pictures.

Be aware of your actions while being outdoors. For example, look for sustainable ways of taking water and snacks with you and dispose your trash in the right places.

Respect existing paths, don’t go wild. Don’t forget about wildflowers and small organisms. Leave the feathers, flowers or rocks where they belong. Instead, take pictures that are harmful and last for eternity. Try always to leave the place as you found it or, if possible, better.


  • Know the law and the rules for visiting the countryside, and follow them.

Respect the wishes of local residents and landowners, and don’t enter private land without permission. Irresponsible behaviour may cause a land manager to deny access to others. 

If you are visiting a National Park or any other protected area, be aware of laws protecting birds or habitats, check if there are rules you have to follow and respect the codes.

Remember that in some countries, actions like disturbing a bird intentionally at or near the nest, or destroying or damaging, deliberately or recklessly, wild flora or habitats are criminal offences. So if you witness anyone you suspect may be illegally disturbing or destroying wildlife or habitat, call the police or other authorities immediately.



  • Keep records and be an active citizen scientist.

If you are recording your sights for yourself, why not share them? Your records are important for local conservation and to build ornithological history, both locally and worldwide. Therefore, you should consider sending your records to bird track websites or any other platforms. 

Additionally, you can get involved in local or national monitoring surveys, such as the Breeding Bird Survey or Wintering Species Survey. 

If you have just started birding and don’t feel confident with your sights, you can get support from online forums and clubs. Plus, the websites and platforms have specialised people supervising records, assuring their viability for scientific purposes. 


  • Think about the interests of wildlife and local people before passing on news of a rare bird.

If you have the opportunity to see a rare bird, enjoy it. But don’t let your enthusiasm overrule common sense. Before spreading the news, assure that it is, in fact, a rare bird and, please, consider the potential impact of the announcement. Think about whether sensitive species might be at risk, especially if that rare bird might be breeding in the area. 

Take into account whether the area can afford large numbers of people and, when in a private property, try to inform the landowner before.