Date: 12/6/18 11:35 am
From: Pam Dowd <pamela.munroe...>
Subject: Re: [cobirds] Gyrfalcon (No Sighting)
Thank you, Andy, for your polite and thoughtful e-mail.

2018 is my 50th anniversary year of birding. As you can well imagine during those years I’ve seen “birding” evolve from a handful of folks with Peterson Guides and a “phone tree” to share sightings to what seems to be a flood of people, websites, e-lists, twitter notices and field guides that break down species into sub-species and sub-sub-species.

It’s like everything in our society today, change can be both positive and negative. I hope Andy’s comments will remind all of us to consider first the welfare of the birds we so adore and second share our values with those who come to see these creatures as we do with civility.

To this day I remember my first “bird walk” at Lake Ontelaunee in Pennsylvania with a “gentle man” who took me under his wing and fostered a love of birds and wildlife that became a core element of my life.

Helping others understand the protocol makes better birding for all of us.

Pamela Dowd
Parker, Douglas County, CO

Sent from my iPad

> On Dec 5, 2018, at 9:19 PM, Andrew Bankert <abankert2007...> wrote:
> Let me start off by saying that the Gyrfalcon was not refound anywhere this morning that I am aware of with people looking along Trilby Road and at the landfill.
> After thinking about it, I do not regret the 15 hour delay between identifying and posting the Gyrfalcon to CObirds. I try to get the word about rarities out as quickly as possible, but this Gyrfalcon was a special case with both being a charismatic species drawing attention from a wider number of people than your average rarity and being found in a restricted area where we could easily lose access if there were any incidents involving birders not following protocols at the landfill. As birders, I understand how exciting it is to chase a rare bird and add a new tick to a list, but I do wonder whether during our pursuits we forget about considering the impacts we might have on the birds we chase and the areas we visit.
> Considering these impacts, including consulting with other birders, is what happened during that 15 hour delay. Just last week while watching the Grandview Cemetery Eastern Screech-Owl from a safe distance across the canal, a group of us witnessed two, probably well intentioned, birders walk right up to the tree the owl was roosting in while searching for it without seeing it. Cases like this seem to occur somewhat regularly with charismatic species that draw attention from more than just listers. There has previously been suboptimal behavior and breaking of protocol from chasers at rarities even within the same CBC Circle as the Gyrfalcon (American Woodcock and Streak-backed Oriole come to mind). Normally, I would trust in the birding community's ability to help educate this small number of people, but the situation at the landfill is different with large equipment with the potential to cause serious injury to someone not following the landfill protocol. Such an event would surely ruin access to one of my favorite birding spots in Larimer County, which we luckily have the privilege to bird at unlike some other landfills in the state. One of the gatekeepers at the landfill today did say that there were some problems with birders not following protocols yesterday, which verified my concerns about posting this sighting. Finally, the Gyrfalcon did not show up on any eBird alerts because they have been deemed to be a sensitive species, and I thought this was worth considering before plastering this sighting for everyone to know about. It seems that in other states birders and falconers have run into problems over Gyrfalcons, and it was not until Tuesday morning that I was confident that it is illegal to trap a wild Gyrfalcon in Colorado.
> I still think we, as a birding community, should be excited when rare birds show up and try to share them with everyone when appropriate, but I think we do need to consider the impacts of both reporting rarities and chasing birds. If you find a Red-faced Warbler at a city park there probably won't be too much need for hesitation, but if you find a Snowy Owl that is best viewed from an active construction site you might want to consider the impacts of informing more than just a small group of people you know well. I also hope we can appreciate birders who do consider the impacts their hobby has on the birds they see, the places they visit, and the environment as a whole. Finally, I do encourage anyone interested to visit a landfill that allows access to look at gulls because you are often rewarded with a good study of difficult-to-identify birds, just make sure you always follow their rules and are constantly vigilant of your surroundings.
> Andy Bankert
> Fort Collins
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