Ethical Dimensions of Nature Watching

Ethical Dimensions of Nature Watching

We may undertake a number of outdoor studies which may require us to observe various facets of nature from small insects to bigger birds and mammals. However, we must not forget that there is an ethical dimension to it. To cite an example, monsoon time is breeding time for many common birds in the city of Mumbai. This includes Purple rumped Sunbirds, Scaly breasted Munias, Red whiskered Bulbuls and Red vented Bulbuls and many more. Their nests are often in plain view or accessible areas in urban landscapes.

Though we may be looking for other specimens (snails, fruit flies or earthworms etc.), we may unintentionally or intentionally go close to nesting areas which may attract potential predators or might lead to encounters/accidents with the nests.

In order to avoid such situations, we need to bear in mind some basics and ethics while observing nature in the outdoors. I am sharing with you a short document (for bird watching) that enlists some points to consider.
To access the document, visit: HBCSE CLOUD DRIVE


Important message about ethical dimensions of nature watching/citizen science projects, all cubists please take a note of it.

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Thanks so much for this message @Adithi. Very useful and timely.

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Basics and Ethics of Bird-watching

  1. Keep your distance from the birds when you observe them. If you think the bird is disturbed by your presence and it keeps flying away, then do not follow it.

  2. Do not harm the natural surroundings just to observe the bird better. For example, do not stamp over plants, or break twigs and branches to get a clear view of a bird.

  3. Stay on existing paths, footpath, or trails, and do not trample the fields, lawns, crops, or fragile habitats.

  4. Do not be noisy.

  5. Do not feed the birds or play the calls of birds to bring them closer to you.

  6. Moving around may not necessarily mean you will see more birds. If you stand or sit in one place quietly and patiently, staying absolutely still, you may see many birds.

  7. If possible, wear dull coloured clothes while bird-watching. Avoid strong-odoured powders, creams, perfumes, lotions, etc.

Be extra careful about observing birds during the breeding season.

  1. Do not approach any nesting area or nest. Observe nests from a distance. It is advisable to use a pair of binoculars or scope.

  2. Never handle the nest, eggs or chicks.

  3. It is generally considered unethical to click photographs of nests and chicks. If you intend to click photographs of nesting birds, do so from a safe distance.

  4. Potential predators of bird-chicks and eggs like crows, dogs and cats may follow you around while you are walking and observing birds. Please be careful so as to not lead them to nesting areas.

Remember, bird watchers must always act in ways that do not endanger the birds and their surroundings. Note that the above guidelines are more or less the same when you are observing amphibians, reptiles and mammals in their natural environment.

Adapted from the Vigyan Pratibha Learning Unit on “Rediscover, Describe and Draw Birds” (Last updated: December 2018)