The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is urging birders to observe wildlife and state guidelines this spring as birds migrate to Vermont for warmer days.
Here’s how to make sure you’re taking care of your environment while being on the lookout for birds this season, according to the American Birding Association’s Birding Code of Ethics.
Avoiding disturbing birds when photographing or recording them can be tricky, as sounds and flashing lights can stress them out. That’s why Vermont Fish and Wildlife advises birders to use artificial light sparingly and to limit the use of tapes to attract birds.
It’s also important to stay away from important nests, roosts, display areas and feeding sites, the code of ethics says. Observers should stay on the trails when they can and refrain from doing things that will disturb the bird’s natural habitat.
Before alerting others to rare bird nesting sites, the Department of Fish and Wildlife asks people to report them to the relevant conservation authorities. Raising public awareness of the site may put the safety of birds at risk and disturb surrounding wildlife or other people in the area.
“Proceed only if access can be controlled, disruption minimized and permission has been obtained from private landowners,” the code says.
Private property is prohibited to bird watchers without the owner’s explicit permission, and state laws governing the use of roads and public spaces apply.
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Beyond compliance with the law, the code of ethics asks bird watchers to respect the rights of others and to show courtesy.
Clean and maintain artificial bird environments
Feeders, nesting structures and artificial bird environments require proper maintenance as they can cause disease if left untended.
“It is important to feed the birds at all times in bad weather,” the code says, so water and feeders should be maintained regularly.
When trying to attract birds to an area, it’s also important to be aware of the dangers that cats, dogs, and man-made hazards can cause.
lead by example
If viewing birds in groups, size should be kept to a limit that minimizes impact and disturbance to the environment.
The Code of Ethics invites birders to inform participants of best practices and to freely share their knowledge and assistance with novice bird watchers.
“Ideally, leaders should track visitation observations, document unusual occurrences, and submit records to the appropriate organizations,” the code says.
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Summer Sorg is a reporter for the Burlington Free Press. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.