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#74246
Given the appallingly bad behavior which continues to happen each and every time an owl is reported in this province, I suggest that it is time to ban all posts related to these birds, be they specific directions to where the owls were found, or even photos of such birds.

At some point we, as a community, must take responsibility for the monster we have created, and do something to stop this madness.

Beyond the welfare of the birds, our credibility with the general public and wildlife managers is at stake, as is our free access in pursuing our hobby.

Sincerely,

Guy L. Monty
Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island, BC
#74250
Hi Sue

Guy is referring to some recent incidents that occurred with some owls in the city which was discussed on another birding site with posting locations of sensitive birds online, flushing of birds by getting too close and blocking their hunting abilities in some cases.

On the yahoo birds group VANBCBIRDS there is some new rules posted regarding Owls I will copy and paste them here since it is relevant to this discussion

"Due to some unfortunate recent situations regarding reporting of owls on
vanbcbirds, and confusion about what is considered acceptable, the following
two rules (in red) are now in effect and posted on the vanbcbirds site
(along with the 7 other unchanged rules):



1.(R) THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE BIRDS ALWAYS COME FIRST. Please read the
American Birding Association's Code of Ethics at:
www.aba.org/about/ethics.html

2.(R) Please do not post the specific or general location of sensitive birds
or bird nests, that may be negatively affected by the presence of many
birders and/or photographers. Species include, but are not limited to, OWLS
and roosting nightjars. We recommend not posting sightings of owls or other
sensitive birds on eBird, social media or photo-sharing sites, until AFTER
the sensitive bird has left the area. Or in eBird, check off "Hide from
public output", after clicking "Submit".



Rule 1 is brand new and emphasizes vanbcbirds abides by the American Birding
Association's international "Code of Ethics". Please read this at
www.aba.org/about/ethics.html



Rule 2 has been reworded to increase the level of protection for owls,
because of some irresponsible people getting too close to owls and staying
too long. As we've stated before, while we cannot stop other sources from
reporting owl locations, vanbcbirds does not want to be responsible for
making it any worse.



We realize there may some specific situations, with specific owls, when it
might be acceptable to report their presence and Jeremiah has proposed we
look into this.



For conservation and scientific purposes, it's very important for any owl
sighting to be reported to eBird and there are two acceptable ways to do
this:

1. Wait until you're sure the owl has left the area (this might take a
few days or weeks).

2. Submit it right away, but after you click "Submit", go to the
bottom right corner and check off the box beside "Hide from public output".



As Jeremiah Kennedy pointed out last week, there's an unknown effect of a
large number of birders/photographers staying in the presence of an owl for
long periods of time. Therefore, it's in the best interests of the owls, to
err on the side of caution and minimize our time in their presence. I've met
people who immediately dismiss the possibility that lengthy stays could have
any effect on an owl, simply because the owl can fly away at any time.
Jeremiah noted it's important to consider "If you are bothering it by
standing by its favorite hunting place." And I noted it can take an
incredible amount of effort for an owl to find a reliable food source,
especially in winter, and that people have no right to force it to move, to
try and find another reliable food source. Ethical birders consider that
irresponsible.



As I said last week, ensuring ethical behaviour is the collective
responsibility of all birders and photographers. Therefore if you witness
unethical behaviour, please have the courage to speak up on behalf of the
bird and remind that person to stop. Just saying "someone should do
something about this" is not good enough - please let that "someone" be you.



Thank you for your understanding and cooperation,

Colin Clasen

Co-moderator, vanbcbirds"
#74253
I 100% agree with this. I recently witnessed the extreme harassment of the bird in question. Many people were loudly talking when we first arrived, which clearly irritated the bird (it was head bobbing), and when it flew across the highway because of it, the photographers chased after it screaming. They constantly got too close and every time the bird landed, a gang of people would go running up to it screaming and it would fly to another tree. Non-birders stopped to take pictures with their phones, and birders blocked the traffic. I would have spoken up and asked the photographers to respect the owl, but almost all of them appeared to not know any English. The poor bird was extremely stressed. The "birders" clearly cared much more about their photos than the birds' welfare.

Is there a way for Wayne Weber to delete or invalidate Ebird checklists containing rare owls to prevent them from appearing on alerts? That's how word of the Burrowing Owl in November got out.
#74254
Was surprised to see the contentious bird reported on ebird yesterday.

I don't think you can regulate what people post on Flickr though, and i for one would take exception if anyone took me to task for posting something on my own photostream (i don't post to Flickr groups much anymore so one would have to specifically look at my photostream).
Waiting till the bird has left the area is something i could get on board with though.
Having said that and knowing what i do now about the situation i would never include the specific location of a red flag bird on there or on Facebook.

I'm pleased that this forum hasn't been the problem this time round, the regular posters here all know the score it seems.

People should know however that this forum, the Fraser Valley forum and the various yahoo groups are not the only sources of info anymore.
#74255
Excellent point Cole,

As users of ebird, I think we should all be pushing for more stringent controls on the broadcasting of details about sensitive species.

And Paul, I wasn't suggesting that we can control anything that anyone posts to their personal Flickr pages. What we can do though, is work to correct the problems that we can have some impact on.

Guy L. Monty
Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island, BC
#74259
Cole, I emailed Wayne Weber about this regarding Ebird but he has not replied to me. In WA state the Ebird reviewer hides all sensitive owls from the alert (if the Ebird submitter chooses to hide their checklist or not) I wish Wayne Weber would do the same here.

Paul, I heard from many photographers that they do take exception with being told what should be posted to Flickr or not so I can understand why that may not go over well. I think all you can do is suggest that people wait to post photos until the sensitive bird has left the area but no way can you enforce that.

Melissa
#74261
With regards to Flickr, I am not sure why the issue is posting a photo of a bird. Would the easy fix not be posting it with just a vague location. I'm sure that would leave the person open to receiving private messages requesting the exact location. I would think it is easier to convince someone to not broadcast a location over not sharing a photo (which is primarily what they want to do). I know some cameras now come with GPS which can go right in to the exif data, but that can be turned off and actually improves battery life considerably (I believe).

Am I missing the point of the Flickr part completely?

Obviously I am 100% on-board with the other part - the raptor lovefest is just ludicrous.

Jeremy Gatten
Saanichton, BC
#74262
I admire Guy Monty for trying to change things as its a major issue in the lower mainland for that reason I tend to look for owls outside of the city.

I don't agree we should ban all owls posting on this forum because not all owls here are harassed for instance the short-eared owls at boundary bay.

They need more land protection than protection from photographers just trying to capture their beauty however the roosting owls are the problem the LEOW's and the ones trying to hunt that get disturbed all day long.

I noticed people like BG, Jeremy and Liron and others never even put the city of the owl they photograph. If more photographers did that it would be less of a problem but how can you realistically stop word of mouth ... Sharing between friends? Fact of the matter is you can't.

BG I hope Wayne Weber replies to you but I heard he's a set in his ways type to put it midly so good luck with that. We just need to all agree not to report any owl to Ebird until it's left it's really not that hard to do. I noticed John Gordon on Ebird posted a photo of the owl and location right after Colin posted those rules. Sadly some will never learn despite all our preaching.

Best thing we can do for owls is worry about ourselves and if you see something wrong I don't recommend telling the person off as you could get assaulted with some of these types document everything with photos and call a conservation officer

All info for how to do that here:
http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/cos/


Mark
#74286
I've missed out seeing 2 of my favourite owls recently, because I know how upsetting it would be seeing what is being described here.
Few years back I would have been in with the masses, but nowadays it is just too painful to witness.
I don't put locations of my birds on flickr, but a few are obvious where they have been taken.
It's so nice spending time with an owl when there is no one around and it seems that you can form a bond. That to me is the enjoyment along with better compositions for photographs. I can usually say that when I leave an owl, it is in the same place I found it, unless it has decided to catch some food.
Anyways. I'm all for the banning of location posts on sites like ebird.

Think about it people...the ones that do this...if you see that cool owl...don't go texting everyone around. Keep it for yourself or maybe just a trusted friend. It will hang around longer, feel safer, and not be at risk of being able to hunt properly. Make your shots count for the little while you are there, and then you can walk away happy that you pretty much have what you want. If you see others with that photo you may have wanted....suck it up, be envious, whatever another chance will come another season.Or not. Took awhile, but I learned that.
#74294
Some really good things noted here


Yes some sad things occurring like two owls in two different locations are getting their roosting trees cut so photographers can get better photos.

This is the lowest thing someone could do as it opens up the owls to predation and doesn't allow the owl to sleep during the day so it can hunt successfully at night.


The sad fact is that when things like this happen it blankets all photographers as bad eggs when that is not the case.

Hopefully this thread has opened the eyes of people and really helped us all to become better stewards for these awe inspiring birds.

Mel
#74295
Guy L. Monty wrote:Excellent point Cole,

As users of ebird, I think we should all be pushing for more stringent controls on the broadcasting of details about sensitive species.

And Paul, I wasn't suggesting that we can control anything that anyone posts to their personal Flickr pages. What we can do though, is work to correct the problems that we can have some impact on.

Guy L. Monty
Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island, BC
I'm all for working towards a solution, that's why i mentioned that i was on board with waiting before posting.
The ebird report kind of bugs me because the person who posted it should know better, i don't see the point of it at all.
In years past i've grumbled a bit about sightings being kept on the down low but i think the situation has also become more epidemic since i started shooting birds 10 years ago and now it just seems like the right thing to do if you love birds.
Like Doug, i am not much for crowds anymore, i passed up the Burrowing owl and will probably pass up this newest contentious bird as well knowing what a gong show it has become, why it got posted on the Yahoo group in the first place is a bit of a mind-boggler but whatever.
Anyways, owls are not my bread and butter, i enjoy shooting any bird, big or small.
I posted a shot of a Song Sparrow on the weekend that i liked because of the feather detail i was able to capture but i doubt very many people would get too excited about a "little brown job".
#74296
What is funny in this is how hypocritical the 2 people are that say banning location of owls is.
Guy L Monty I remember a post were some one asked about were to find owls when on vacation not only did u say were but what road to drive down on and what time was best. Birder girl you always report where to find bird's and l have herd so much about you while birding. This is such a silly topic. Instead of banning post and making even more photographers leave this sight I think teaching people how to act properly would be so much more effective. Everyone is guilty of letting people know where certain bird's are were supposed to be an open forum not a closed one. Have you ever wondered why some of the better photographers no longer post on here?
I know the 2 people running this site will pprobably ban me for what I said but again this is supposed to be an open forum.
#74299
Terrance316 wrote:What is funny in this is how hypocritical the 2 people are that say banning location of owls is.
Guy L Monty I remember a post were some one asked about were to find owls when on vacation not only did u say were but what road to drive down on and what time was best. Birder girl you always report where to find bird's and l have herd so much about you while birding. This is such a silly topic. Instead of banning post and making even more photographers leave this sight I think teaching people how to act properly would be so much more effective. Everyone is guilty of letting people know where certain bird's are were supposed to be an open forum not a closed one. Have you ever wondered why some of the better photographers no longer post on here?
I know the 2 people running this site will pprobably ban me for what I said but again this is supposed to be an open forum.
1. Not just 2 people would like to prevent the harassment of rare owls through not allowing them to be reported online. I'm sure almost every birder would agree.
2. "u say were but what road to drive down on and what time was best." I'm assuming you are talking about Boreals in the interior, which don't get harassed to my knowledge due to small amount of birding activity there compared to Vancouver?
3. Yes Birdergirl runs the BC Bird Alert, but she doesn't report Owls on it. She reports birds that won't be affected by large numbers of people looking for it. You are quite ignorant for stating this.
4. Who are the "better photographers" that don't post on this forum anymore?

The people who are harassing owls care more about their photos than the welfare of the owl. Educating all photographers about the subject in Vancouver is near-impossible.

*someone *you *where *Birdergirl *birds *heard *posts *site *probably
#74300
To funny I actually met you before you were photographing the mountain Blue bird on the beach and I showed you were it was. So l Iet your rude ccomments slide. Birders need to help birders or this hobby dies and becomes not fun. I say this do you have any proof crowds of people just hurt Owls can you back up that statement l don't think so. What I was trying to say is there is to much hypocrisy on this site. Have you ever wonder how Birder girl get all the information about the rare birds it because people tell her where they are. I not keep going on this it's not the point. Educate people is the only way to make the hoddy better. Closing it down banning it just leaves the information for the people to share with only your friends it dose not make the hobby any better. So many photographers have left this site for this very reason. It's time for a change.

Thank you, Judy.

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