Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ethics of Birdwatching

Birdwatching. A lesser-known hobby that does not seem to raise many ethical issues.  Turns out, organizations even have a code of ethics for the hobby! Take the Brookline Bird Club. They take their hobby, and implications that we may not have realized existed for it, very seriously.

The Brookline Bird Club points out the dangers of disturbing birds in their natural habitat, and lays out guidelines for how to best avoid harming them. They even account for the changes in season, and the difference in behavior of different species. They also care for keeping the environment healthy, including a recommendation to stay on designated paths in parks and woods, so as to not trample anything growing there. Also interestingly, they specifically tell their members to behave politely around others to not create a bad name for the group. While many organizations have similar codes, it’s interesting to see that a hobby like bird watching could have something like this too!

The American Birding Association code has similar ethical requirements - to ensure the welfare of birds in their own environments. It also gives details on what to do if you want to attract birds to other environments. If you set up a simple bird feeder, it’s important to also keep in mind a few things. You don’t want the food and water to be contaminated so make sure to keep it clean. You also don’t want to lure birds to predators, so keep the cat away!

However, they also have the specification of helping new members in their own groups. This code has many more specific examples of scenarios, and also recommends being willing to teach others. They claim that the knowledge and experience you gain should be freely shared among the group. Who would have thought people would get so dedicated about something like finding rare birds?

There is plenty more information where that came from, and it can all be found in the links provided. More interesting ethical codes exist on the Ethics Codes Collection website, so feel free to look around!

The Ethics Code Collection is managed by the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions. Look forward to a new and improved website come September!

Written by Alice Amell and Tabitha Anderson

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