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Archive 2013 · Birders vs Photographers
  
 
Conrad Tan
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Birders vs Photographers


Hello everyone! I recently engaged this person in banter about a subject we all hold dear, birds. Everyone is welcome to voice opinions here. I just wanted to know what you all think.







Here's the subject of all the fuss!








Feb 03, 2013 at 05:24 AM
Bliz
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Birders vs Photographers


Dont feed the wildlife. Thats my opinion, it rarely leads to anything good for the animal. Opinions will vary im sure.


Feb 03, 2013 at 05:39 AM
Imagemaster
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Birders vs Photographers


Beauty of a shot, Conrad, but I am not going to take your bait.

Unless it is beer bait.




Feb 03, 2013 at 05:48 AM
DonGut
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Birders vs Photographers


First off, I'm not into baiting but I've photographed GGO's and got images similar to yours and even flying toward me without any bait. But i do not believe baiting is at all harmful. It's also proven that a number of species have thrived by having access to bird feeders. Bird counts in many areas prove this over many years.
Sharing our images and promoting animal observation, is the only chance many species have. Tigers especially and most of the wildlife in Africa. We habituat gorillas and chimps and leopards and cheetahs;, and many more species. If we could not see them they would be lost People make a livelihood showing these species to paying clients who want a close and personal interaction. It's not the ideal situation and there are issues but it beats the alternative.
There are far greater threats to wildlife than feeding, baiting, and habituating!
I have travelled extensively all over the world to view and photograph all types of wildlife for many years. I've witnessed animal population declines, and other animal populations that are thriving. Without some personal human contact many species are doomed.
This is my opinion. Don G.



Feb 03, 2013 at 05:52 AM
tfoltz
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Birders vs Photographers


What about all the people with feeders in their backyards to help the wee little birds through the winter?
I have a hummingbird feeder? I'm playing devils advocate here where should the line be drawn

-Tim

Edited on Feb 03, 2013 at 05:56 AM · View previous versions



Feb 03, 2013 at 05:53 AM
Merlinator
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Birders vs Photographers


I wait with baited breath for the comments to come.


Feb 03, 2013 at 05:54 AM
sdgnh
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Birders vs Photographers


I disagree. As long as you are not drawing the wildlife out of its territory and putting that animal in danger, offering appropriate food should not cause a problem. I agree with Conrad, that it may offer help during the winter.

In my opinion, offering food on a one time basis, doesn't lure the bird away from its territory, or make it dependent on humans for survival. It merely offers an easy meal that day.

Look at that face - it looks pretty content if you ask me.


Nancy




Feb 03, 2013 at 05:58 AM
Hersch
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Birders vs Photographers


Great shot Conrad, I bet she thought you took that with a 50mm or kit Lens. There is always going to controversy over this issue. One of the benefits of shooting with a long lens is that we can stay our distance without bothering most wildlife. As for baiting fields, What about Bosque del Apache, NWR?

Just heard about your leg injury too. I agree with the surgery route. You should get more than one opinion. Lots of good Orthopdedic Surgeons in the SF area.



Feb 03, 2013 at 06:10 AM
JTMeuret
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Birders vs Photographers


I think it's b.s. how she thinks "most people" bait to get shots like that. I've been taking wildlife photos for many years now. I've personally never baited and the photographers I'm around never have either. At least, not that I've seen anyway. But, I know some out there are feeding eagles fish lately to get photos. Is that bad? I don't know. I don't really see a problem with it. They eat fish and nature is harsh during the winter. They need food to stay warm. And it's not like an eagle is going to land on your arm and become your friend. Guys throw fish in the water and the eagles swoop down to get a free dinner. Neither the human or animal are hurting each other. Almost seems like mutual respect actually. I also think certain animals it might be a bad idea to feed them, but others it might be okay. Hey, an eagle is our national emblem. Feed them! A tiger or lion, you might not want to. They might eat you as well.

-FWIW, "birders" in general are way more disruptive to wildlife than serious wildlife "photographers". Trust me, I've seen it with my own eyes. Plus, there are too many of them (birders) as is. That's part of the problem. Sometimes I'm out taking pics and not being disruptive "at all' and then here comes cars AND cars of birders! I've also thought it's strange how they can't wait to "take notes" of what they've seen, but have NO DESIRE to photograph what they encountered. Seems strange, but that's just me.



Feb 03, 2013 at 06:27 AM
kmunroe
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Birders vs Photographers


interesting stuff Conrad ..i think a free meal is a good thing ... at the slaughterhouse where i shoot eagles they have been dumping in the fields for 9 years now.. when they started you would see the odd eagle coming in to eat.. nowadays you can count over 100 eagles on good days and on bad days maybe 30 ... great shot of the owl


Feb 03, 2013 at 10:57 AM
 

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acjd
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Birders vs Photographers


JTMeuret wrote:
... But, I know some out there are feeding eagles fish lately to get photos. Is that bad? I don't know. ... Neither the human or animal are hurting each other. ... Hey, an eagle is our national emblem. Feed them!


See Bald Eagle Management Guide p.15, item #7. "Do not intentionally feed bald eagles. Artificially feeding bald eagles can disrupt their essential behavioral patterns and put them at increased risk from ... other mortality factors."



Feb 03, 2013 at 02:28 PM
uz2work
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Birders vs Photographers


Since I know that there are a good number of people who post here and who do bait and since I also know that many others have never personally witnessed what often happens in situations where baiting is done, I don't expect that this is going to be a popular opinion, but I also think that it needs to be said.

If it was ever possible to make a case for why baiting is okay, I think that the internet has changed that. While it might seem reasonable to think that a single photographer using a couple of pet store mice to bait an owl isn't likely to do harm to the bird, that is not the situation that is often happening in today's post-internet world. As soon as a species, such as various varieties of owls, shows up in an area where it is not often seen, that information gets posted on the internet, and it is likely that dozens (or more) of photographers are going to be showing up at the location on a daily basis, and a good number of them are going to be coming prepared to bait the bird. When this happens, it is likely that a number of other things are also going to happen.

I have witnessed situations where an owl became so used to having people provide it with those pet store mice multiple times a day and day after day for weeks that it would sit on the same fence post or utility pole every day and just wait for the cars to arrive. Then, as one mouse after another was released, it would behave like a trained circus seal and repeat the cycle of catching the mouse, eating it, returning to the fence post, and waiting for the next release.

The results of this repeated and constant baiting were many. First, there is no question that the bird had become much too trusting of humans. I've seen such baited owls allow people to walk virtually right up to them without being scared into flight. And, yes, often this type of baiting does occur in close proximity to roads. Those from raptor rehab centers will likely tell you that the number one cause of permanent disability (or worse) for raptors is being struck by vehicles after they have gone after prey that is eating scraps of food that have been littered in the roadway. Anything that makes a raptor feel more comfortable near roads is not doing it a favor.

Additionally, when a bird is baited every day, it is likely to stay in an area where the natural food supply is not sufficient, and it is likely to stay in that area for a longer period of time than what nature would dictate, none of which helps its survival chances. Further, I've read reports from the experts at raptor rehab facilities saying that bait, such as pet store mice, can have a higher likelihood of being toxic to a raptor than the natural prey that it is would otherwise be eating.

Even though it is not, to me, the worst consequence of baiting, photographers who do bait also often give photographers a bad name by trespassing onto private property.

While I don't expect that my thoughts are likely to have the least bit of influence on those who believe that they have a right to get their photos regardless of the means that they have to use to get them and regardless of the possible consequences of using those means, I would like to hope that some of these thoughts might have an effect on the thinking of a few others who may not have seen baiting for themselves. After personally witnessing the kind of baiting situations that I described above, I decided, a few years ago, that, whether it is an owl, a deer, an eagle, or any other bird/animal, if I have to resort to baiting to get certain types of pictures, I will be happy never to get them, and I also decided to avoid even going to locations where I know that baiting is likely to occur.

When I look at pictures, it isn't hard to guess with a high level of accuracy which pictures were taken as a result of baiting. While I have no ability to stop people from doing things that are not against the law, I do have the right to make judgments about the ethics of those who feel that they have the right to do whatever they need to do get their photographs, and those judgments are, to me, a lot more important than any judgments I might make about the quality of their photographs.

Les



Feb 03, 2013 at 02:30 PM
gsmani
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Birders vs Photographers


I have a vini, vidi vici approach I go, I see, I take picture. I am not qualified enough to participate in this debate.


Feb 03, 2013 at 02:35 PM
jstephens62
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Birders vs Photographers


Thanks to Conrad for opening this up to discussion. I also would like to congratulate Conrad and Carlene for showing us how to have respectful discussion where the two parties may disagree.

Some activities we can all agree are wrong (trespassing, feeding the bird something you know to be harmful). Some activities we all agree are fine (photographing or birding from a blind with the bird unaware of your presence). In between these extremes, there are a range of behaviors where reasonable people could disagree. For me, baiting falls into that category. I could argue both sides of the issue.

I am both a birder and a photographer, I have a degree in Biology, and I have also have a keen interested in human behavior and how we make decisions. I think there is no doubt that if you derive pleasure and reward from an activity, it will color your judgement about its being "right". Conversely, if you have negative emotional reaction to an activity, it becomes much easier to see it as being "wrong". I offer up the current discussion regarding gun legislation in the US as an example.

What would really help is some objective data to help guide us, which in this case might be very hard to obtain. I suppose survival data for owls in remote locations with little or no human contact vs. those near people who have been feed would be possible, but I doubt it has been done. I do know that there is data for other bird species that feeders do allow for increased population and range expansion, despite their downsides (increased transmission of infectious diseases, etc).

Absent objective data, we can still discuss the issue, but all parties should be aware of their own biases, be honest about them, and be respectful of the opinions of others. I think Conrad and Charlene did very well in that regard.

My apologies for the long-winded post, and thanks for the opportunity to express opinions near and dear to my heart.



Feb 03, 2013 at 03:20 PM
PaulCal
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Birders vs Photographers


If you bait them, I will shoot them.

We do not live in a utopian society. Man has severely encroached upon wildlife habitat, and in trying to correct the problem he then intervenes again. eg. fish hatcheries, bird rehab clinics, nesting site, preserves, etc.

Eagle populations in Nova Scotia have increased dramatically due to the efforts and education of this organization. Sure they make mistakes, but overall its working.
http://www.eaglens.ca/index.php

Its fine to say don't feed the birds, blah blah blah if you live in Florida or Alaska, there is such an abundance there is no need.
But in the urban great white freezing north, now thats different

Feeding, baiting , erecting nesting habitat, re-stocking rivers, creating preserves all have a downside, however usually the upside benefits are greater. If you are going to do it try and do it right. Become educated.

I say Chill Out.



Feb 03, 2013 at 03:21 PM
Steve McDonald
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Birders vs Photographers


You certainly were polite to her, considering her presumptive and accusatory attitude. I can just imagine her patrolling campgrounds, looking for violations of her version of proper behavior with wildlife.

But I don't bait wildlife at all and don't even take grain or bread along to lure the ducks in close. I put out seed for many birds at feeders where I live, but don't take photos of them there. I never made a specific decision not to do that. I just seemed to sense from the beginning, that the photos wouldn't be natural and avoided it. But, there were a few times that I took pictures when other people were feeding the ducks, so I'll have to make a note not to do that again.



Feb 03, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Rob Tillyer
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Birders vs Photographers


Good subject Conrad and great photo. These discussions bring awareness to the problems.
I live in such a rural area that the only "baiting" that goes on around here is bird-feeders. As far as predators drawn to highways, road kill does that quite often in this area. I do find the photos that you city folks often post with an army of photogs all lined up fairly amusing. I would like to think that decent photos of wildlife may help keep a little land wild and free for wildlife but that maybe wishful thinking.

Rob



Feb 03, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Alan Dean
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Birders vs Photographers


Hi Conrad
First I want to applaud you for raising this topic and I also want to comment positively on the constructive manner that both you and Charlene have used to approach the subject. I also think that your work speaks for itself and that we should not necessarily put all of these situations in the same hat . I suspect that your images have done more to positively impact conservation and wildlife in general than most of us could imagine.
So I am going to wade into this, not making any judgements just offering up a situation I witnessed yesterday .

I had the privilege to visit a site where there are 4/5 Great Grays. And I would call it a privilege because as we all know this doesn't happen very often.They have been at the site since early December.

So here's the setting , there were many,many Photogs there , somewhat overwhelming, split in 2 different groups , one group working with 1 owl , the other working with 3. I am guessing but I will say there were only a few birders there, parents with children etc.

Within the 2 groups of photogs there were maybe 5 people who were baiting the owls to swoop in for the much wanted flight pattern image. Was I trying to get the same image , yes. Were we all, yes. I was told this is happening to a similar extent every day.

Perhaps the one thing that people photographing Great Grays don't know is that in general they are a very tame species.

The end result was that I personally witnessed one owl come in and take the bait right at the photographers feet while he was placing it on the ground. Although I did not witness another situation I was told that two owls had shared about 14 baits , 6 and 8 each. Obviously they are hungry but keeping in mind these birds have been there since early Dec , and in general there lack of fear of humans, we have to wonder whether or not these owls have or are becoming dependent on being fed.

So what does this all mean , I don't know . All of us were focusing on the flight patterns knowing the birds were being baited , and as well the apparent birders and children were excited to see the owls swooping in. It was an educational process for some and a photo op for others.

But on my 2 hr drive home , and as a birder who has become interested in photographing wildlife , I couldn't get away from thinking about these owls and what their temporary environment has done too/for them

The other interesting thing is none of my flight shots were good enough to post , but I wanted to put something up that showed some kind of result for the day . So I posted a couple of images , one of which has for me drawn a lot of positive feedback. Its an image showing an owl in its natural environment in a snow squall. So who knows.

Good luck with your topic as it moves on . I look forward to seeing more of your work as you get that ankle fixed up.

Alan










Feb 03, 2013 at 03:58 PM
KCollett
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Birders vs Photographers


Good image Conrad. There are so many nuances to this debate that it is unlikely all the angles would be covered in this post. Interesting reading for sure though.


Feb 03, 2013 at 04:01 PM
beetlefang
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Birders vs Photographers


I had never even thought about people baiting raptors until I saw this thread. Perhaps ditching the ghillie suit for a furry hamster suit might make for some closer shots...

Edited on Feb 03, 2013 at 04:45 PM · View previous versions



Feb 03, 2013 at 04:10 PM
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