Date: 3/12/21 1:57 pm
From: Tom Sykes <sykes...>
Subject: [wisb] Re: Reporting nest sites
Very quickly in response to Brian’s self-proclaimed rant.

Brian clearly has an axe to grind with bird banding. And that’s fine as that’s his opinion. As is the opinion of others who would disagree.

However, going forward I am asking to keep any responses to Brian’s back channel. For now the subject of bird banding is off limits.

Tom Sykes
Wisbirdn List Owner
<sykes...>




> On Mar 12, 2021, at 1:41 PM, Brian <courthousehollow...> wrote:
>
> Hello everyone,
> First off, this is LONG and a bit of a rant, so don’t read this if that
> bothers you. Before posting I reread the WisBird rules, and yes, I’d be ok
> with my mother reading this 😊 But my ultimate goal is to get people
> thinking so that birds can thrive.
>
> I'm wondering if there's a pink elephant in the room in this conversation?
> Are all banding “studies” self-justifying? I have a question for the forum
> if people would be so kind. I'm curious if anyone could summarize for me
> how most of the bird banding that is done is anything but HARASSMENT to
> them? I am honestly sending this out of genuine curiosity, have no
> mal-intentions, and am not being derogatory towards anyone's interest in
> banding. I really do want to understand.
>
> I've been birding for 15 years or so now and in my quest to wrap my head
> around banding: I have helped with bird banding multiple times over
> multiple years for grad students in the UW system and elsewhere, read many,
> many articles by professionals, USGS, as well as lay folks perspectives via
> articles and on forums, yet I could only come up with 4 examples of how
> banding could ACTUALLY benefit birds.
>
> The 1st, is using banding for translocating, ex. to determine which males
> are which in order to move some of the younger ones in the interest of
> populating other areas due to habitat loss, etc. The 2nd, involves
> endangered species or soon to be endangered, ex. using banding for the
> purpose of knowing who’s who, where they go, how many successfully fledge,
> etc. The 3rd, is to assist with game bird hunting regulations. The 4th, is
> determining survival rates after oil spills or for toxicology in general. But
> all 4 examples don't seem to justify the majority of banding.
>
> With the exception of those uses, every example I've ever seen/heard as to
> the "benefits" of what we have learned/learn from banding could be
> distilled down to "satisfying human curiosity" or worse, giving humans
> doing these projects "something fun to do" with a carte blanche
> psychological safety net, say, when they stuff a passerine headfirst into a
> pill bottle to weigh them, that, "I'm doing this to help birds!" Some
> examples of what I've come across of how banding "helps" birds are:
> learning that certain birds move here or there in their lifetimes, fly in
> one stretch over the gulf, live for X amount of years, territorial
> behavior, territory size and fidelity, mate fidelity, reproductive behavior
> (which bird builds the nest or feeds the young and how often), etc. Again,
> satisfying human curiosity....
>
> To me, learning that a bird uses this or that summer/winter site, with the
> exception of not destroying existing habitats (...but, really, where a few
> recaptured birds go isn't much help to the THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of
> others of that species that go elsewhere), is more or less irrelevant to
> conservation efforts in 2021. We've known for 60 years minimum that birds
> need habitat in general and they generally need most varieties of habitat.
> So, in my mind, learning a certain Warbler passing through Wisconsin (or
> anywhere) winters in X particular patch of forest in Venezuela is
> questionable conservation at best, and most likely, just
> harassment/wasteful. Perhaps it could generate local interest during
> fundraising, but so could MANY other things. And wouldn't birds be BETTER
> served by using those funds for protecting/acquiring as much quality
> habitat with as much habitat diversity as possible?
>
> It appears scientists need to be reminded that in their vigor and eagerness
> for "data", publications, career cache, tenure, job security, a raise, etc,
> that they might be forgetting to consider just how "essential" an invasive
> study (banding) is to the population’s (or individual’s) future survival,
> short and long term. And that needs to be asked for EVERY "study" using
> bands/transmitters. The problem is... it appears to rarely be asked.
> "Banding is good", is the inculcated mantra....and "the more the better"!
>
> I can't help but think that most efforts by concerned birders, especially
> banding, are beating a dead horse, or worse, diluting resources for
> conservation that could be better spent by giving birds a greater chance at
> living LIFE. Knowing any of the aforementioned things we learn from banding
> (aside from my first 4 examples) seems a stretch that it’s helping birds
> any. It's been long established that birds decline without habitat in which
> they can thrive, and we know enough (and have known enough for a LONG time)
> to assist most of them with that. Banding just seems like a bizarre thing
> to do to another creature so we can "learn" about them. An antiquated and
> insensitive holdover that appears to be kept around because "it's what we
> do". I would guess eBird provides FAR more useful data without harassing
> the birds (with the exception of a few knuckleheads “gathering” data for
> eBird).
>
> But what COULD benefit birds, and benefit them in a BIG way, is if everyone
> who has ever banded (or many other data collection methods) took ALL the
> costs over the years associated with such efforts (gas, equipment, time,
> funding/grants, etc, etc) and pooled those resources to buy/restore habitat
> globally; critical areas being of 1st concern. Birds, and Nature in
> general, would be FAR better off than the "value" of the reams of data that
> was/is/will be collected or the costs of the tremendous resources used
> worldwide to further such endeavors.
>
> Essentially, I’m wondering if our efforts are truly making any difference
> or if we're just swimming in interesting but ultimately useless data about
> birds.
>
> Any feedback contrary to my view is much appreciated.
>
>
>
> Thank you!
>
> Brian Pierce, Green Bay, Brown County
>
> On Thu, Mar 11, 2021 at 6:30 PM Bill Stout <stoutw...> wrote:
>
>> Hi Tom,
>> I decided to forward my email to you to the entire group because I believe
>> that a good number of people do not understand the perspective of a
>> researcher. In fact, some even may be considered hypocritical (e.g.,
>> Madison Eagle Nest Watch seems to depend on volunteers to REPORT and
>> MONITOR eagle NEST LOCATIONS for them, but they are dead set against anyone
>> reporting nests to anyone else). I have read several other viewpoints that
>> also seem one-sided or perhaps uninformed. It is certainly not my intent
>> here to offend anyone; however, I am not so naive as to think that this
>> won't happen. Nevertheless, it is not my intent.
>>
>> Most Sincerely,
>> Bill Stout
>> Ashippun, USA
>>
>> My email to Tom on Wednesday in response to his post:
>>
>> Thanks for your insights, Tom, as I greatly appreciate them. I just wanted
>> you to know that I am very conservative in my work when it comes to
>> alerting others of nest sights. I do not list locations such as on eBird or
>> report locations to anyone. However, as an educator, if someone is very
>> interested in the birds or if a nest is in the immediate vicinity of their
>> home, I work to provide them with a "one of a kind" educational experience.
>>
>> Last year I did not accommodate the general public and followed the North
>> American Bird Banding Council recommendations for bird banding in the time
>> of a COVID-19 pandemic (with the exception of one of the fist Great Horned
>> Owl sites as it was before recommendations were out). This year will be
>> more complicated as we try to move back to a new normal during this time.
>> Nevertheless, I will be very cautious.
>>
>> Thanks again for your post.
>>
>> Sincerely,
>> Bill Stout
>> Ashippun, USA
>>
>> William E. Stout
>>
>> ________________________________
>> From: Bill Stout <stoutw...>
>> Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2021 12:58 PM
>> To: <sykes...> <sykes...>
>> Subject: Re: [wisb] Reporting nest sites
>>
>> Thanks for your insights, Tom, as I greatly appreciate them. I just wanted
>> you to know that I am very conservative in my work when it comes to
>> alerting others of nest sights. I do not list locations such as eBird or
>> report locations to anyone. However, as an educator, if someone is very
>> interested in the birds or if a nest is in the immediate vicinity of their
>> home, I work to provide them with a "one of a kind" educational experience.
>>
>> Last year I did not accommodate the general public and followed the North
>> American Bird Banding Council recommendations for bird banding in the time
>> of a COVID-19 pandemic (with the exception of one of the fist Great Horned
>> Owl sites as it was before recommendations were out). This year will be
>> more complicated as we try to move back to a new normal during this time.
>> Nevertheless, I will be very cautious.
>>
>> Thanks again for your post.
>>
>> Sincerely,
>> Bill Stout
>> Ashippun, USA
>>
>> William E. Stout
>>
>> ________________________________
>> From: <wisbirdn-bounce...> <wisbirdn-bounce...> on
>> behalf of Tom Sykes <sykes...>
>> Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2021 10:43 AM
>> To: Wisbirdn <wisbirdn...>
>> Subject: [wisb] Reporting nest sites
>>
>> From time to time the issue of reporting bird nests appears on the list.
>> And while there is some disagreement about whether or not a nest site is or
>> is not being disturbed by human presence, I would direct you to both the
>> ABA Birding Ethics and WSO Birding Ethics sites as a reminder for those
>> wondering about the ethics of reporting a nest site. WISBIRDN subscribes to
>> following both.
>>
>> https://wsobirds.org/about-wso/code-of-ethics
>>
>> https://www.aba.org/aba-code-of-birding-ethics/
>>
>> It is true that many reports of nesting raptors appear on eBird as well as
>> many other listservs and Facebook pages. Citizen Science is a great tool
>> but it is also used by a few unethical people. People who don’t care about
>> disturbing birds in order to get “the perfect shot”, or, people who would
>> traffic in birds. Even curious onlookers. Fortunately, these people are in
>> a minority. But they are out there.
>>
>> It’s also one thing for one or two people to observe a nest but consider a
>> report in an urban area when many people arrive at the same time - as with
>> the eagle nest recently reported in Walworth city. Birds may be
>> intimidated. Or not. The problem is, it’s usually too late to reverse the
>> damage when it’s found to be they are disturbed.
>>
>> Some years ago an eagle nest was reported in Horicon Marsh. Fish and
>> Wildlife staff closed off the immediate area although the nest could be
>> observed at some distance. The eagles were successful. There have been
>> eagle nests up and down the Fox River near Appleton easily seen by anyone
>> who wishes to observe at a safe distance. The same with many lakes in the
>> northern part of the state.
>>
>> I happened to volunteer at a wildlife refuge in Florida for five months
>> where a Bald Eagle had set up a nest and produced young. Although the nest
>> was quite high, we roped off the area to prevent disturbing the nest site.
>> These birds were quite skittish whenever anyone approached the base of the
>> tree. A local member of the Audubon Society objected claiming the birds
>> were not at all disturbed and was subsequently banned from the refuge when
>> he ignored the roped off area and had gone so far as to fly a drone toward
>> the nest to get video. And this was the local president of an Audubon
>> chapter!
>>
>> It all boils down to using common sense and taking into consideration the
>> particular situation. Just because one raptor nest doesn’t appear to be
>> troubled by human activity, doesn’t necessarily apply to another raptor
>> nest. Great care should be taken when reporting a sighting. If in doubt,
>> don’t report.
>>
>> Tom Sykes
>> Wisbirdn List Owner
>> <sykes...>
>>
>>
>>
>>
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>
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