Date: 1/6/19 4:52 pm
From: Stefan Martin via CTBirds <ctbirds...>
Subject: [CT Birds] Owls and eBird- A word of caution
Hey all,
It seems that every winter there is an incident (or many) involving
‘Day-roosting Owls’ (I.e. Saw-whet and Long-eared Owls) and unethical
approach or behavior. While the guidelines for this listserv prohibit
reporting these species, eBird does not follow the same criteria. Although
it is important to obtain this data on individual species and occurrence,
reports of Owls on eBird lead to unnecessary disturbance and sometimes,
even death (I’ve seen this happen)..

What’s the reason for this post?
It was brought to my attention that there was a recent issue involving an
individual and a specific bird that had been regularly reported on eBird
over the past few weeks which escalated to the point where law enforcement
needed to be called. The individual (photographer) was shaking a tree and
removing/snapping branches by hand in order to get the Owl to look at the
photographer for the ‘perfect shot’.. The individual was confronted by
another birder and became a scene rather quickly.. Needless to say, this
bird which had been around for weeks now, has abandoned the roost and the
tree was essentially destroyed. I’m not a fan of being the ‘Owl-Police’ but
unfortunately, people do not think about the risk they are putting on these
birds in the field or online. I know for a fact that these birds are chased
around every year based on current eBird reports with photographers
traveling from surrounding states for a chance to photograph these awesome
birds. So with this being said, I strongly urge everyone to refrain from
posting Owls to eBird or hiding these species from your checklists. Maybe
Greg has some thoughts or suggestions on this or how you can edit lists in
order to hide these sensitive species.. There have been other reliable
roosting locations that do not exist anymore because of continuous flushing
and disturbance.. It’s really such a shame that these things happen.

Anyway, please keep this in mind in the future and please be sure to
mention something to those you see using unethical approach.
If you see something, say something...

Happy Birding,
Stefan Martin
Stratford (for the month)
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