Date: 5/1/17 12:58 pm From: Kara K Beach <islippednfell...> Subject: Re: Whooping Cranes and other rare birds
I would like to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on this subject.
I have to say that I am completely torn as I see both sides of the coin as important.
During my time in NY, there were occasional irruptions of snowy owls. During these irruptions, the owls were stressed in general but tolerated people observing them and photographing them from the road. Unfortunately, there are people that aren’t satisfied with the far away views and/or shots. I have witnessed people trespassing on private property to get closer and closer to the owl, photographing as they moved in, until the owl would take wing and flee its perch. I was astounded by the audacity of that pair and very concerned about the safety and well-being of the owl.
That being said, part of what drives my interest in birding is the possible rare sighting I may be fortunate enough to experience. The opportunity to see a rare bird in my lifetime would be incredible. The chance to document a rarity in camera would be a dream come true.
As it pertains to the whooping cranes this discussion is revolving around, I have to agree that in this case, keeping their location private was a good decision and best for the welfare of the cranes.
It would be my hope that this isn’t the case for every rarity in the state. I would like to see a cautionary comment with the notification related to warning people of stressing the birds and sharing too much info to the general public on social media. I think (or would like to think) we are all more interested in the birds than to put them in danger.
I would like to think that there isn’t an “elite” group that get notified about rare birds in the area routinely and the rest of us are left out except in circumstances such as the fearless cranes.
From: The Birds of Arkansas Discussion List [mailto:<ARBIRD-L...>] On Behalf Of Jim and Karen Rowe
Sent: Sunday, April 30, 2017 2:24 PM
Subject: Re: Whooping Cranes and other rare birds
"First, do no harm".
Glen and David:
A Game and Fish Biologist (not me) was informed by one of the agency's field personnel about the presence and location of the 2 individuals from the experimental Eastern population of Whooping Cranes. The officer and biologist discussed potential threats to the birds due to the fact birds had little to no fear of humans, vehicles or basically anything. Due to the fact there is usually a huge response by the public (both casual and avid birders) to the report of the location of rare birds, especially Whooping Cranes, the Game and Fish biologist talked with a member of Audubon Arkansas and explained that 2 young birds from the Experimental Eastern Whooping Crane Population were present in the state but that they were not going to release the location for the safety of the birds.
Dan Scheiman posted the following in Arbirds in January 2017:
For the record, on January 10 there were (and might still be) two banded WHOOPING CRANES on private land in eastern Arkansas. They are from the eastern migratory population established by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership ( <http://www.bringbackthecranes.org/>http://www.bringbackthecranes.org) and are being tracked by WCEP and AGFC. I wouldn't tell you where they are exactly even if I knew. Its just exciting to know that this species is once again a part of our avifauna, if marginally.
Little Rock, AR
A month or two after Dan's post, I was contacted by several individuals that observed the cranes and each person was very concerned about their safety. Each person told me that they now realized why their location was not being made public. I was impressed by these individuals' deep concern for the birds and desire to keep people from inadvertently drawing them to the roads by parking along the road to take photos. They each reported that the crane's approached their vehicles and had a complete lack of fear of people and vehicles. One person observed a crane in the road. Each person told me that when the birds moved toward them, they left the area. I never detected an air of elitism; or smugness by these birders because others didn't know where the cranes were. They simply discovered the birds and then discovered how extremely vulnerable they were and wanted to tell me about the crane's extremely tame behavior out of concern for their safety.
AGFC had considered hazing the cranes to what we hoped would be a safer location, but hazing was not done because of the extended snow goose season. We did not want to move the cranes into an area where they could mix with a flock of snow geese and get shot. There was snow goose hunting going occurring in that area. An AGFC officer made daily (often twice daily) visits to check on the cranes.
Glenn, you asked in your post "did it work". One crane lived to migrate towards WI. I feel it is a success given that I was pessimistic about the survival of either crane. Oh, and the crane wasn't hit by a car, it was hit by a semi-truck. The crane, the leg bands and the transmitter were each found in many pieces.
I'd also like to address your comment about parking alongside a public road, so you and others reading this do not get ticketed. It is against Arkansas law to pull over to the side of a state highway or state maintained road or park alongside a public road unless is it an emergency. Most counties have similar regulations for county roads. My guess is birding does not constitute an emergency.
I read that a person wrote that the lack of someone telling everyone on the listserve the Whopping Crane locations have destroyed their faith in birders. I have had the complete opposite reaction. These birders' deep concern for the safety of the birds, placed over their own desire to bring all their fellow birders to view the birds, has restored my faith in avid birders' dedication to conservation.
I'm not sure how many folks on here are familiar with the American Birding Association . What is interesting is that the people who found the cranes but did not report the location to the entire listerve or post it on a Facebook page were following the American Birding Association's Birding Ethics rule 1c:
(c) Before advertising the presence of a rare bird, evaluate the potential for disturbance to the bird, its surroundings, and other people in the area, and proceed only if access can be controlled, disturbance minimized, and permission has been obtained from private landowners. The sites of rare nesting birds should be divulged only to the proper conservation authorities.
You have a point Glenn. There does exist such a group apparently. How to decide those that are privileged and those that are not is not known to me. Guess only "good" birders are "in". One would think that only folks really interested in birds would bother to join the LIST. Maybe the in group believes otherwise!
Since joining this list service, I have tried to be a good member. I try to always let people know when I spot a rare, or uncommon bird. Or a bird I believe to be unusual, or possibly never seen in a particular area before. I thought that was the point. Recently, I have learned that if the bird is really rare or special, there is a group of birders who keep them secret and conspire to keep that information from us “common” birders. For instance, two Whooping Cranes were spotted near Cherry Valley. It is my understanding that Whooping Cranes haven’t been spotted in Arkansas in about 100 years. Instead of giving birders notice so we can all go and see this beautiful bird, a group of birding insiders kept it to themselves. Sure, they told their friends, and took their families up to see them. But they all agreed to not tell the rest of us until the birds were gone. Why? Well, they say it was because they wanted to protect the birds? Did it work? No. One of the birds was eventually hit by a car and killed. Perhaps, if a couple cars of birders were parked alongside the road at the time, getting to see a rare bird, that car would have slowed down and become aware of the crane and not killed it. Perhaps. The birds were easily seen from a public road. I have to say, this has totally destroyed my faith in birders that I used to look up to. I believed they were in this so all birders can enjoy seeing birds. But, evidently, there is an insider group that are allowed to know when a rare bird is in the state, while the rest of us are not. Since I believe in following the rules, as established by these insiders, I will no longer report a rare or unusual bird until I know it has left the area. I will not report my birds on eBird until at least 2 weeks after the fact. It is only right that we all follow the same rules.