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:
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
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
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
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,