Date: 11/30/18 10:55 am
From: Jacob Bourque <jakebourque...>
Subject: [obol] Apology note from the yellow jacket sporting-bluebird-"asshole"-photographer
Dear Members of OBOL and The Portland Birding Community,

I’d like to identify myself as the bluebird photographer from the Dharma
Center that has caused a bit of stir in the community over the past 24
hours or so. I’ve been taking time to read the posts and thoughts from the
community on this forum before formulating a response that I felt
appropriately reflected the issues at hand.

In regards to the events that transpired yesterday, I’d like to go into a
bit of detail as I think various opinions and accounts have inflamed the
issue, or led to misguided information. I began my morning at the Dharma
Center around 10:30am, as I was aware of the Eastern Bluebird sightings
that had been accounted for. I had been to the Dharma Center on both Monday
and Tuesday of this week, much like the rest of the community, in the hopes
of seeing the pair of vagrant Eastern Bluebirds. On Thursday morning I
proceeded into the open field as I witnessed another birder with binoculars
already in that location, assuming it would be appropriate to do so. I laid
amongst the reeds for an hour or so until the bluebirds arrived, at which
point I drew my lens and snapped a few shots.

Looking back, I do believe my subtle movements and brightly colored yellow
jacket likely led to the bird’s retreat from the area (I usually wear camo
gear and have a blind when shooting). While I did my very best to avoid
this outcome, I now realize that venturing into the field was an intrusion
of the bird’s habitat, and an annoyance to the rest of the community that
also came to the Dharma Center with expectations of seeing these rarities.

After exiting the field, I received a number of unfriendly glances from
other birders, and it slowly became obvious that I had overstepped some
boundaries. I then began discussing the situation with Jack, and concluded
that while I was not wrong to enter the field, it was an unethical move
that likely spooked the birds.

As an avid birder with a background in ornithology and ecology, I have
spent years both studying and admiring this country’s beautiful birds from
as far east as Massachusetts, where I was born, to as far west as Southern
California. In that span of time I have come to understand so much about
the rules and regulations of the ABA and ethical photography guidelines,
but am still learning as I’m sure we all are in a sense. This hobby is ever
evolving, and at 24 years of age, I still have much to learn. A new
generation of birders my age and younger will soon hold the responsibility
of protecting and showcasing all of the birds we make the extra effort to
seek out and watch, and I take a personal interest in seeing to it that we
are educated properly.

After looking back on this event, I would like to sincerely apologize. It
was never my intent to disrupt the bluebird’s habitat, or the experiences
of other photographers and birders in the area. In the future, I ask that
members in the birding community speak to me - or anyone for that matter -
directly when such mishaps take place, as opposed to creating potential
witch hunts or doxxing situations where my photograph is ‘leaked’ so as to
expose me online. I think the last thing this form of engagement with
wildlife needs is a community determined to shun or reject those that are
learning and share a deep admiration for this hobby. I intend to continue
looking for the Eastern Bluebirds, but will now do so with a more
systematic and respectful approach.

Thank you everyone for the opportunity to be a part of this amazing
community. Having only lived in Portland for approximately 6 months, I am
astounded by the love and admiration others have for birding throughout the
Pacific Northwest. It truly warms my heart. I shall see you all out there
again, though likely not in a brightly colored yellow jacket. Please feel
free to stop me and chat, as I welcome any and all engagement with fellow
enthusiasts in the community. I apologize once again, and thank you for the

Your fellow birder,

Jake Bourque

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