Ethics is the system, the science and the philosophy of moral. What is moral? Moral is the mechanism of idealization. How the eighth interactive force of the universe forms animate organisms and inanimate particles. How a good or bad human individual and community relates to, deals with or is capable of conducting its relation to nature, including human beings. We must understand that we are components of nature: this is why our spirit of idealisation forces us to be assimilated into nature and get involved in birding and photography.

(Based on American Birding Association , http://americanbirding.org)

  1. Everyone who takes pleasure in birds and birding must always respect wildlife, its habitat, and the rights of others.
  2. In any conflict of interest between birds and birders, the welfare of the birds and their habitat comes first.

Promote birds and their habitat

  1. Support the protection of important bird habitats.
  2. Avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger, exercise restraint and caution during observation, photography, sound recording and filming.
  3. Limit the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds, and never use such methods in heavily birded areas, or for attracting any species that is threatened, endangered, of special concern, or is rare in your local area.
  4. Keep well back from nests and nesting colonies, roosts, display areas, and important feeding sites. In such sensitive areas, if there is a need for extended observation, photography, filming, or recording, try to use a blind or hide, and take advantage of natural cover.
  5. Use artificial light sparingly for filming or photography, especially for close-ups.
  6. Before advertising the presence of a rare bird, evaluate the potential for disturbance to the bird, its surroundings, and other people in the area, and proceed only if access can be controlled, disturbance minimized, and permission has been obtained from private land-owners.
  7. The sites of rare nesting birds should be divulged only to the proper conservation authorities.
  8. Stay on roads, trails, and paths where they exist; otherwise keep habitat disturbance to a minimum.

Respect the law and the rights of others

  1. Do not enter private property without the owner's explicit permission.
  2. Follow all laws, rules, and regulations governing use of roads and public areas.
  3. Practice common courtesy in contacts with other people. Your exemplary behaviour will generate goodwill with birders and non-birders alike.

Ensure that artificial bird environments are safe

  1. Keep dispensers, water and food clean, and free of decay or disease. It is important to feed birds continually during harsh weather. Maintain and clean nest structures regularly. If you are attracting birds to an area, ensure the birds are not exposed to predation from cats and other domestic animals, or dangers posed by artificial hazards.

Group birding

  1. Each individual in the group has responsibilities as a Group Member.
  2. Respect the interests, rights, and skills of fellow birders, as well as people participating in other legitimate outdoor activities. Freely share your knowledge and experience. Be especially helpful to beginning birders.
  3. If you witness unethical birding behaviour, assess the situation, and intervene if you think it prudent. When interceding, inform the person(s) of the inappropriate action, and attempt, within reason, to have it stopped. If the behaviour continues, document it, and notify appropriate individuals or organizations.

Group Leader Responsibilities

  1. Be an exemplary ethical role model for the group. Teach through word and example.
  2. Keep groups to a size that limits impact on the environment, and does not interfere with others using the same area.
  3. Ensure everyone in the group knows of and practices birding ethics.
  4. Learn and inform the group of any special circumstances applicable to the areas being visited. Acknowledge that professional tour companies bear a special responsibility to place the welfare of birds and the benefits of public knowledge ahead of the company's commercial interests. Ideally, leaders should keep track of tour sightings, document unusual occurrences, and submit records to appropriate organizations.

(based on North American Nature Photography Association, http://www.nanpa.org)

  1. Promote the well-being of the habitat, bird and photographer.
  2. Every habitat and bird is unique, and cumulative impacts occur over time.
  3. Promote good stewardship of the resource.


  1. Learn patterns of animal behaviour: know when not to interfere with animals' life cycles.
  2. Respect the routine needs of animals: remember that others will attempt to photograph them, too.
  3. Use appropriate lenses to photograph wild animals: if an animal shows stress, move back and use a longer lens.
  4. Acquaint yourself with the fragility of the ecosystem: stay on trails that are intended to lessen impact.


  1. Inform managers or other authorities of your presence and purpose: help to minimize cumulative impacts and maintain safety.
  2. Learn the rules and laws of the location: if minimum distances exist for approaching wildlife, follow them.
  3. In the absence of management authority, use good judgement: treat the wildlife, plants and places as if you were their guest.
  4. Prepare yourself and your equipment for unexpected events: avoid exposing yourself and others to preventable mishaps.


  1. Treat others courteously: ask before joining others already shooting in an area.
  2. Tactfully inform others if you observe them engaging in inappropriate or harmful behaviour: many people unknowingly endanger themselves and animals.
  3. Report inappropriate behaviour to proper authorities: don't argue with those who don't care; report them.
  4. Be a good role model, both as a photographer and a citizen: educate others by your actions; enhance their understanding.

Back to Top