Date: 11/30/18 7:55 am
From: Jim Danzenbaker <jdanzenbaker...>
Subject: [obol] bb incident and what I learned
Hi OBOLers,

First, I want to thank everyone who responded to my request for feedback on
the bluebird photographer incident yesterday morning at the Dharma Center
in Portland. It has indeed been a spirited conversation and I think
positives definitely were identified as a result of the conversation.

Regardless of the fact that about 80% of the responses supported posting
the photo, I chose not to for several reasons:

1.) Public shaming is not what OBOL is for. OBOL is for sharing
information about birds and birding and I don't want to throw a wrench into
that mission.
2.) I feel that there is usually a back story behind human behavior and to
jump on somebody for doing something that I felt wasn't good behavior would
be pompous on my part and that is NOT me.
3.) The conversation that has developed as a result of this incident has
been enough to highlight feelings (both for and against) and the result of
publicly sharing the photo would not add anything productive.
4.) Introspectively, I've asked myself if there was ever a time when I may
have crossed a line to look for a bird. My obvious answer to that was,
yes, I have. I looked for the Skylark in Newport several years ago -
wandering around in tall grass trying to get a Skylark to fly. That was
probably worse than anything that I saw this photographer do. I regret
doing that even to this day.

I have been a birder since I was 6 years old and photography has been a
part of my family for the last 50 years. I have also been a bird guide and
tour leader for a number of years. Unfortunately, the latter has taught me
to be ultra vigilant when I see bad behavior. One part of my position as a
guide on a long standing tour that I co-led was being a bird cop which
meant in the field enforcement of human behavior rules around birds. It
was never fun to inform somebody who had spent $20k to take a trip to a
remote part of the world and take awe inspiring photos that they had to
back off or (in cases of repeat offenses) return to the ship. That is now
a part of my past and I don't want to be in that situation again and I tend
to shy away from those situations now.

Having said that, I think that we need to police ourselves when we see
behavior that we deem to be "unethical" or bad. I was wrong in that I
didn't attempt to communicate with the photographer yesterday. I closed
the door on that part of my life years ago except when I am hired as a
guide at different birding and nature viewing events across the country
when I do "enforce" the rules as set forth by the organizers of those
events. Policing ourselves includes just pleasantly conversing about birds
and bird behavior with those who, in our eyes, tend not to get the fact
that our presence shouldn't adversely affect the birds (or any part of
nature for that matter) that we are observing. Messages can be vocalized
in very nice ways.

I do want to speak to feedback from someone who responded basically stating
that talking to the photographer (or birder or nature viewer or fill in the
blank) would have alerted them to the error of their ways and changed their
behavior going forward. I received feedback from somebody else who
basically said that they had an incident in which they spoke to someone
showing bad behavior and the message didn't sink in and the person being
spoken to blamed the behavior on somebody else. So it doesn't work the way
we hoped for every time.

I'll get off my soap box now and don my binoculars and spotting scope and
prepare for another day of pursuing my favorite pastime.

Again, thanks to the OBOL community for the discussion. I don't want to
take up valuable OBOL bandwidth on this subject so I will bow out.

Keep your eyes and ears skyward.

Jim Danzenbaker
Battle Ground, WA

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