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Do you tick birds which are made tame by food? (1 Viewer)

earlytorise

Well-known member
I haven't done many birding trips.

When I next do one, I wonder whether I will tick any wild bird that has been more or less tamed by the hotel or location providing it with food/water.

My focus is on watching birds and not on getting the absolute best photo. I would understand if a photographer likes tame birds.

For example, in China the way most people twitch all those rare babblers, laughingthrushes and magpies is to sit in a hide that overlooks a water bath. The birds in question would visit the bath every day.

I am inclined to think that proper ticks on one's list, if you're a serious twitcher, ought to be a challenge.

But then, I am not completely convinced of it. I wouldn't mind visiting an artificial garden to see a bird. But the garden would count as providing it with food.

Your thoughts are welcome!
 

Sangahyando

Well-known member
Germany
Well, it's a complex matter to be sure. In general, I'd count such birds (provided it's certain that they're from a wild population and not introduced); that said, it also depends on the individual situation. FWIW, there are some times and places where birds that have not been "tamed" with food can easily be observed at close range as well, for example on small islands situated along migration routes. This may also apply to some twitching situations, so it's not always that much of a challenge anyway. In the end, it boils down to "your list, your rules"...
 

Welsh Peregrine

Well-known member
I admit that I prefer to see birds in their natural habitat, behaving naturally; however, if a bird is free to come and go as part of a wild population I will happily tick it. I would not tick a bird that is part of an introduced population that is dependent on feeding, but is that always provable? I would tick a population still present in it’s natural range but now dependent on supplementary feeding! Oh so many variables in our human modified world!
 

YuShan

hikingbirdman.com
United Kingdom
I have ticked a lot of hummingbirds on feeders. In the jungle they are so much more difficult to identify because they are often gone quickly. But they are wild birds and nobody forces them to visit the feeders, so I have no problem to tick them. I also don't consider them domesticated. But yes, it is always nicer to find them feeding on wild flowers.

Also, I was always amazed by the amount of birds that I found in the morning around lodges in Ecuador. The reason? These are the only lights within many miles and therefore attract many moths. The birds know that, so at first light they go feasting on them! You could argue that this is also artificial and an indirect way of attracting them with food.

What about owls around street lights, or above your tent when camping? Camping attract rodents and rodents attract owls. Of course that is not intentional, but...

The more I think about it, the more grey areas I find. Many birders use playback. Is that OK then? You could argue that is worse than attracting them to feeders because you are cheating the bird and causing him stress in the process, while a feeder isn't doing that (although it could create dependence).
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Let's put it another way: if you have a feeder in your garden and a new bird turns up, would you not tick it? If so, I think you would be alone....

My garden has Valerian and Buddleia to attract moths and butterflies ( the birds hunt insects among both and the Goldfinches take the Buddleia seeds). One or other may have initially attracted the Striped Hawk Moth I trapped last year.

Of course I tick fed wildlife. Whyever not?

John
 

lockbreeze926

Well-known member
Scotland
I generally tend not to think of birds as "tame", but "tolerant of people", which is a different matter.

As for things like water supplies/bathing pools, well, that's essentially the same as any kind of habitat provision/enhancement, albeit on a very small scale. It's not significantly more artificial that nature reserves forming scrapes, reedbeds etc, or building nest platforms for Peregerines and Ospreys.

It is a personal preference and I do remember one photographer who refused to take any shots that involved "the hand of man" - so, no posts, roads, houses, wires. never mind feeders. That strikes me as self-flagellation, but obviously individuals can do what they fancy.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
Cyprus
What about Gulls that swipe sandwiches out of the unwary hand, simple opportunism so birds being baited at blinds etc are simply doing the same.

I ticked the Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo behind a kitchen block in Khao Yai which came to eat scraps and which at the time, was about the only way to see it.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
As long as it was wild. I'm certainly going to be adding the antpittas I see in Ecuador this summer (cross-fingers) at places like Paz de las Aves, which are all habituated birds that come in to be fed.

Using stake-out spots for otherwise rare or cryptic species (or even common!) is perfectly fine, and is an example of what I would describe as a "Bird smarter, not harder" approach to birding.
 

earlytorise

Well-known member
habituated
Thanks, that's the best word I have so far to describe the birds which I may or may not tick, depending on the extent of the habituation.

A vagrant that happens to visit a feeder, however, I would probably tick.

I'm pretty sure that when doing research on Australia I read about a lodge where a cassowary is so habituated that it's basically part of the family. That's cute but, according to my instincts, untickable.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I've known many birders who have visited the Casssowary House. While they don't run off at the sight of people, they are still cranky and potentially dangerous, and they don't show up every day. They not dependent on people for food or shelter. If you are not counting Cassowaries seen there or the other habituated sights (There is also a famous beach where they come into in the early morning to feed on garbage), then presumably you wouldn't count any of the trained antpittas, most the hummers (which are easiest to see at feeders), gulls at public beaches, birds at other feeders, etc.

I just don't think their is anything more "noble" about spending a week in dense bush away from civilization just to fail at seeing a target bird, versus going to a spot where you know one is around and not going to freak out at the sight of a human.
 

DMW

Well-known member
Thanks, that's the best word I have so far to describe the birds which I may or may not tick, depending on the extent of the habituation.

A vagrant that happens to visit a feeder, however, I would probably tick.

I'm pretty sure that when doing research on Australia I read about a lodge where a cassowary is so habituated that it's basically part of the family. That's cute but, according to my instincts, untickable.
It's your decision what to tick, and if you feel uncomfortable ticking habituated birds, that's entirely reasonable. I do think there's more satisfaction in finding birds under completely natural conditions, but realistically there are quite a lot of spectacular birds that are highly unlikely to be seen on a birding trip away from a feeding station.

Sometimes you get the best of both worlds - we randomly found a flock of Arabian Golden Sparrows coming into grain, AGS.JPG as we were driving past. They were the only ones we saw.
 

Himalaya

Well-known member
The birds are not forced to visit a feeder. They do have other options. I would not tick a bird that was caught in a mist net for ringing and shown in the hand. I would tick that bird if I saw it maybe 15 minutes later behaving as a wild bird should.
 

Joe H

Well-known member
United States
It’s a good question: How people-tolerant/habituated before it becomes a “pet,” and thus probably not countable by most of us as wild? Certainly the “your list, your rules” standard is the right answer, but the more you think about the line between habituated wild, and virtually domesticated, the more it comes down to specific cases. I’ll post two pictures below.

One is of a moose eating Halloween pumpkins we leave out because the moose love them. I would unreservedly call this a wild animal and would not open the door when he was having his snack.

The other is an emu that inhabited a campground my family visited in Australia. The campground staff did not feed it, but it ate whatever scraps it could find and actively begged food from campers. It even had a name. I think I would have a much harder time considering this bird as wild. On the other hand, if I hadn’t already seen lots of emus in the wild, and this was the only one seen on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, then yes I probably would count it.

I will note that my life list has room for comments, so I would probably note that it was a campground pest.
 

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Tiraya

San Diego CA
United Kingdom
If it is not a pet or captive bird, it's fair game. I don't personally go by the "if it's habituated and fed regularly, it's no longer countable" mindset. If it was born in the wild, and has been in the wild, it's a tickable bird. Whether it's tame or can be counted on a list shouldn't be changed by how often it is fed by humans.

It does bring up an interesting thought though. If a bird fed on a boat arrives as a vagrant, and is therefore "uncountable" from being sustained by humans for a day or two, then why would a normally wild bird used to being fed by humans at feeders be any different...this is why I leave those decisions to everyone else...and then list all of them anyway ;)
 

jurek

Well-known member
Ticking birds at feeders is actually more ethical, because one avoids disturbing not habituated birds of that species and other wild birds around.

It is seen as easy (although photographers feed birds anyway), but from the point of birds, it is better.

I began wondering, if it is possible to find a non-habituated House Sparrow in Europe and the USA?
And of gulls, perhaps all individuals of most species are tame by human food in ports, beaches, rubbish dumps etc. Even if one sees a gull flying far away, it is a bird used to people which on another day will happily pick food in a port.
 

jurek

Well-known member
I admit that I prefer to see birds in their natural habitat, behaving naturally;

I used to live in the Netherlands, where almost all birds are extremely tame and all live in cities. Because whole north of Holland is a 80 km unbroken mega-city, and everything from wintering waterfowl to vagrant Yellow-browed Warblers stays in city gardens and urban canals, because there is no unbuilt place. And the earth itself is technically a sea bed dried by people.

however, if a bird is free to come and go as part of a wild population I will happily tick it. I would not tick a bird that is part of an introduced population that is dependent on feeding, but is that always provable? I would tick a population still present in it’s natural range but now dependent on supplementary feeding! Oh so many variables in our human modified world!

Interestingly, study of Red Kites in England counted that natural feeding could support only several times less kites than exists. Most Red Kites live on food laid for them in gardens purposefully for feeding kites.

I prefer not to think what percent of British Blue Tits nest in provided nestboxes and feed all winter on feeders...
 
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