Date: 11/10/21 5:07 am
From: Matthew <mjbell1214...>
Subject: [CT Birds] Re: Bird Photograpy - A Polite Request
Just an update to everyone on the current state of the owl:

Photos have always been banned in the “Connecticut Birds” Facebook group, and I’ve also temporarily banned them in the “Connecticut Audubon Bird/Nature Photos” group. I admin both groups, and they have a combined 20k members. Working on getting “Connecticut Nature Lovers” to do something as well, but it’s hard when the admins aren’t active.

Yesterday (11/9) a Long Beach resident called the cops on birders who she claimed harassed her and shouted at her after she unknowingly walked past it when avoiding the crowd. Someone threatened to “throw her into the Sound” if she didn’t leave the beach immediately. She said that the cops said that if it happens again they would make arrests.

Photos I’ve seen posted recently from some Connecticut photographers show the bird with squinted eyes, raised head, and drooped wings. A sign that Christine from A Place Called Hope agrees is not of a healthy bird, and that the constant harassment is beginning to get to it. Hopefully she can get permission from DEEP to rescue and relocate the bird.

I’ve already been sent photos today of people surrounding the bird on all sides, extremely close. This bird is giving birders a terrible rep.

Greg, I think it’s worth reaching out to eBird and see if they can make Snowy Owl a sensitive species in Connecticut. Hide all exact locations and reports, just like they do for Great Gray and Northern Hawk owls in other states. I know they can selectively do it, as they’ve done it for Short-eared Owls doing breeding season in NY.

-Matt Bell
Vernon

> On Nov 8, 2021, at 21:59, Chuck Imbergamo <imbercj...> wrote:
>
> Thank you Charlie and the others who have replied on and off-list in support of the owl.
>
> Most seem to agree that being ~30 feet away is unnecessary; even a relatively inexpensive zoom-enabled digital camera could get a decent shot of this bird from 3 times that distance. And most birders with scopes are happy to share the view with others. Why get closer when you can see the bird well from where you stand?
>
> We cannot know what bothers or doesn’t bother the birds, and just because one sticks around doesn’t mean that all is well. It might be, but why should we push the envelope? Owls that sit in the open can be vulnerable in some circumstances, and Snowy Owls are highly conspicuous and prone to hunker down, so if they can be approached the question comes down to how close is TOO close?
>
> I think the question remains unanswered for now, but I want to remind all that the American Birding Association has a code of ethics and birders should familiarize themselves with it: https://www.aba.org/aba-code-of-birding-ethics/
>
> Right from that code is the following: “Always exercise caution and restraint when photographing, recording, or otherwise approaching birds.”
>
> Caution and restraint - just like Charlie exemplified photographing his Snowy in Alaska...we can all take a lesson from that!
>
> Chuck Imbergamo
> CT Birds Moderator
> Madison
>
> From: Charlie Bostwick
> Sent: Monday, November 8, 2021 3:49 PM
> To: Chuck Imbergamo
> Cc: Larry Havey; ctbirds@lists ctbirding. org
> Subject: Re: [CT Birds] Re: Bird Photograpy - A Polite Request
>
> Thanks Chuck! Agree - “... we have to find a balance, tipped in favor of the birds.”!
>
> It’s easy to temporarily forget the pure joy of birds that got most of us into this when we start thinking about a great photo or a county/state/ABA tick or whatever the other meaningful motivators might be for each of us. I know I have to remind myself sometimes.
>
> It’s also easy to forget that the birds don’t exist for us to exploit. Their greatest meaning is in there own existence and their place in a fragile ecosystem.
>
> I wonder if we can all agree on some sort of standard quantifiable distance and observation time for a large raptor so as to remove some of the subjectivity and judgement, and therefore more easily hold each other accountable? When I was in remote Alaska last month, I got (with no bias haha) amazing Snowy Owl pictures from over 100’ away, and then moved away within five minutes. I did this after carefully evaluating from a distance the best angle and light so I could be done and move away quickly. If the bird looked agitated, I could have moved on without photos - in favor of the bird. Even then, I hope I didn’t scare away in potential prey for the bird.
>
> Birders sometimes get a bad wrap from other environmentalists. Almost every birder I know is also a staunch environmentalist and I would like to see our reputation as such improve.
>
> Good birding all!
>
> Charlie
>
>
> On Nov 8, 2021, at 11:54 AM, Chuck Imbergamo <imbercj...> wrote:
> 
> Hi Charlie – that is a fair question and I don’t think anyone knows the answer. What I hope we can all agree on is that people pressuring a bird by getting too close is not what we want.
>
> A week ago I asked that people refrain from posting on this board when a bird might be accessible, and happily that has not happened since with this bird. But I’m sure photos of it are on many social media forums by now. The problem as I see it is that there are those who will upset or flush a bird because they don’t understand birds well enough, and they can’t read the agitated behavior.
>
> It’s a good thing that owls are not bears!
>
> I am all for access to see great birds, but we have to find a balance, tipped in favor of the birds.
>
> As an aside to all: Charlie is the #1 birder in the United States. I hope he is not offended by the comments of #7,559…!!
>
> Chuck Imbergamo
> CT Birds Moderator
> Madison
>
> From: Charlie Bostwick
> Sent: Monday, November 8, 2021 2:19 PM
> To: Chuck Imbergamo
> Cc: Larry Havey; ctbirds@lists ctbirding. org
> Subject: Re: [CT Birds] Re: Bird Photograpy - A Polite Request
>
> What would be considered a safe distance for a Snowy Owl?
>
>> On Nov 8, 2021, at 11:16 AM, Chuck Imbergamo <imbercj...> wrote:
>>
>> All – Since hearing reports of people getting too close to a Snowy Owl last week, I have been working with Kathy Van Der Aue of the COA to see whether we can get help (CT DEEP, EnCon, USFWS, etc.) when these situations spin out of control.
>>
>> I will post when we have information to share, but given the situation happening now I am personally following up on this.
>>
>> Stay tuned.
>>
>> Chuck Imbergamo
>> CT Birds Moderator
>> Madison
>>
>> From: Larry Havey
>> Sent: Monday, November 8, 2021 1:49 PM
>> To: ctbirds@lists ctbirding. org
>> Subject: [CT Birds] Bird Photograpy - A Polite Request
>>
>> This is a general plea requesting that those seeking to photograph certain
>> birds, particularly birds drawing crowds of birders, be willing to exercise
>> some added restraint and accept a somewhat less than perfect photo in
>> exchange for the greater good of both the bird and your fellow birders. A
>> crowd of 20 people ~30 feet from a Snowy Owl was at the very least a
>> constant distraction to the owl this morning. Whether or not the bird was
>> stressed is beyond my ability to determine, so I will not even speculate.
>> But every movement, every noise from that many people at such a close
>> distance repeatedly commanded the owl's attention.
>>
>> This is an entirely polite ask, and not intended to stir up yet more debate
>> or to condemn photographers in any way. So let's all avoid doing either of
>> these things. I enjoy your photographs as much as anyone, but I'd still
>> appreciate them all the same if you gave birds in these particular
>> situations a bit more space.
>>
>> Thank you,
>> Larry Havey
>> Bethel, CT
>>
>> CTBirds, a service of Connecticut Ornithological Association - Bringing birders together statewide. Please support COA: https://www.ctbirding.org/join-us/
>> CTBirds is for the discussion of birds and birding in Connecticut. For list rules and subscription information visit: https://www.ctbirding.org/birds-birding/ct-birds-email-list/
>>
>>
>> CTBirds, a service of Connecticut Ornithological Association - Bringing birders together statewide. Please support COA: https://www.ctbirding.org/join-us/
>> CTBirds is for the discussion of birds and birding in Connecticut. For list rules and subscription information visit: https://www.ctbirding.org/birds-birding/ct-birds-email-list/
>
>
>
> CTBirds, a service of Connecticut Ornithological Association - Bringing birders together statewide. Please support COA: https://www.ctbirding.org/join-us/
> CTBirds is for the discussion of birds and birding in Connecticut. For list rules and subscription information visit: https://www.ctbirding.org/birds-birding/ct-birds-email-list/

CTBirds, a service of Connecticut Ornithological Association - Bringing birders together statewide. Please support COA: https://www.ctbirding.org/join-us/
CTBirds is for the discussion of birds and birding in Connecticut. For list rules and subscription information visit: https://www.ctbirding.org/birds-birding/ct-birds-email-list/
 
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