Ethics of Birding and the Law of BirdsEthics of Birding
Although some birds seen in cities are habituated, there are many that have rarely encountered a human being. Maintain a distance from wild birds. Stay on the trails and paths. By chasing birds through the underbrush or forest, you disturb them and, of course, crush the vegetation. You may deprive migrants, which are on a tight energy budget, of valuable time to find food, fatten up, and continue on their migration journey. For nesting birds, disturbance can cause them greater stress.
New York City Audubon encourages ethical birding behavior for the benefit of both birds and fellow bird watchers. Bird watchers and photographers should make every effort to reduce the disturbance their presence causes for birds, especially in areas visited by large numbers of people, like Central Park. In those areas especially, NYC Audubon recommends that observers refrain from leaving trails and avoid the use of recorded songs.
For more details on ethical birding behavior, click here for the American Birding Association's Code of Ethics. For current info on the pros and cons of playing recorded bird song to attract birds, click here
Native birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty, which prohibits the taking of nests, eggs, and feathers, except for scientific purposes. It also prohibits killing (except those species for which there are designated hunting seasons), harassing, or "adopting."
Taking in a young bird, which appears to be abandoned, is illegal. It is best to leave it alone since the parents may be close by and will continue to care for it. There are resources for helping some injured birds. Call our office at 212-691-7483 or click here for a listing of Animal Hospital and Rehab Centers.