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Disturbing birds

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Old Thursday 30th June 2005, 00:17   #1
IanBrown
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Disturbing birds

Being very new to birding and a keen photographer I am looking for some advice on ensuring that when observing and photographing birds I do not inadvertantely disturb them. As I have read many times the birds have to come first. I am especially concerned where young birds in the nest are concerned. Basically my question is (generally) how close can one approach common birds, say finches or tits, without causing any distress.

I appreciate any advice on this matter,
Ian.
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Old Thursday 30th June 2005, 00:28   #2
KC Foggin
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Hello Ian and a warm welcome to you from those of us on staff here at BirdForum.

You are off to a very good start by asking good questions. A bird will pretty much let you know if they feel threatened by you so you should let them be your guide. We don't allow nest shots here for exactly the reason you mentioned. The birds come first. Sometimes your close proximity to a nest can cause the parents to abandon the nest, sometimes close proximity to a nest will only invite other predators to the nest. Also, breeding season is not the time to try and bait out a bird with "pishing" or any bird call whistles that are available. I do subscribe to "pishing" in the fall when the warblers come through. The best way to photograph birds is to make yourself stationary rather than chase them down. I dress in camo and just stay put with my camera and scope and you would be amazed at just how close the birds will come to you once they are comfortable. Sometimes too close to take a photo :(.

Just use your common sense which you have already shown by asking.
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Old Thursday 30th June 2005, 00:34   #3
IanBrown
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Thanks for the advice. Photographing nests isn't really of interest to me anyway - I feel it to be somewhat voyeuristic, almost like taking photos through neighbours windows.
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Old Thursday 25th August 2005, 22:50   #4
Terry O'Nolley
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I thought this was going to be a post about eerie birds that acted deranged and unsettled those who saw them
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Old Friday 26th August 2005, 15:35   #5
IanF
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Welcome aboard Ian

A real toughie question as regards distance without disturbing as it varies tremendously between species and locations. It also depends on how you define 'disturbance' - as most species will notice you and react to your presence as soon as you are in their field of view - sometimes diving for cover at first glimpse. Some species though aren't perturbed at all - Dotterel spring to mind - they'll let you approach within a few feet - not that there are many to hand to photograph

Garden birds can become more accustomed to your presence and some species such as Robins and Chaffinches can be encouraged to take food directly from your hand. Sitting quietly in the garden near feeders 12-15' away seems to work well in our garden for Greenfinches, Blue Tits, Geat tits, Goldfinches etc. - provided you don't move suddenly. Feeding Stations can be good places to get a bit closer to them as well - though not often with natural looking perches. For the same species in the wild woods then often they are very wary.

Beyond that I think you have to get into the realms of Fieldcraft and using Hides - there is plenty of good advice in the forums - just use the search facility for those words.


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Originally Posted by Terry O'Nolley
I thought this was going to be a post about eerie birds that acted deranged and unsettled those who saw them
Lol!
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Old Friday 26th August 2005, 17:23   #6
jurek
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IanBrown
Being very new to birding and a keen photographer I am looking for some advice on ensuring that when observing and photographing birds I do not inadvertantely disturb them.
Hi,

There is no golden rule. It depends on species and place. Bird behavior is a best guide - if the bird stretches neck, hunches, starts hopping away - you are too close.
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Old Friday 26th August 2005, 21:01   #7
matt green
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the first lesson i learnt was that you can rarely approach a bird as close as the bird might willingly approach you[if you are still and patiant].find yourself a quiet spot near a good vantage point and just wait.when you have something magical happen like a muntjack munching windfall crab apples ten feet away that is the gift that you have been given and i never ask for more than nature is prepared to give.all the best,matt

Last edited by matt green : Saturday 27th August 2005 at 12:47.
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