ETHICS AND RULES FOR BIRD WATCHING IN KENYA

YOU ASKED

Are there any standard rules and ethics for bird watching in Kenya? Are there places you are restricted to go birding? I'm planning for my first bird watching holiday, which i want to mix with wildlife viewing, as I am not a "full time" bird watcher and as much as I enjoy birds I do like to switch off and do other things.


ANNE HUYSMAN REPLIES

Thank you for raising an important question on birds, birdwatching holidays and ethics. Though your question is based on bird watching in Kenya, the answer is fit for birding everywhere: from your backyard to other exotic birding destinations.

Ethics in birding involve and revolve around how a birders treats other people (who may not even be birdwatchers), the environment (read birds habitat) and the birds themselves.

Starting with people, show courtesy. At no time should your need for adding an extra species of bird make you disrespectful to other people. Good bird watching ethics mean that if a birding site is privately owned and your need permission to access it, make sure you seek it in a polite way and by the laid down procedure.

The environment, never before is our concern and care for environment so much in need for survivor of birds as it is today. Litter and other garbage should not be taken to bird watching sites.

The ultimate of all bird watching ethics in Kenya is of course how you treat birds. Did you know that playing bird calls is disturbing to birds? While you may be able to spot an extra species you "confuse" the bird and might therefore make it not respond appropriately to its mate or to a threat.

Disturbing a nest so as to "get a better view" is certainly not an ethical way of bird watching. This may cause a bird to abandon a nest and what a shame if the eggs were just about to hatch! Similar hanging a round a breeding site cause distress to baby birds which may then attempt to fly to a different area and therefore loose touch with the parents.

Anne Huysman
Ontdek Kenya Safaris