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Thread: Mist Netting & Bird Banding; Right or Wrong?

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    Publisher Arthur Morris's Avatar
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    Default Mist Netting & Bird Banding; Right or Wrong?

    Having photographed birds for more than a quarter century, I have seen bird photographers accused of every crime under the sun. That bird looked at you. You are disturbing it. Your images have inspired folks to protect the environment, save sensitive areas, get folks inspired to open their wallets. Who cares? You once disturbed a bird by walking towards it with your lens.

    I have always thought is odd that biologists have been and are given a free pass. Years ago I met--at Jamaica Bay WR, Queens, NY-- John G. Williams, curator or ornithology at the British Museum in Nairobi, and author or co-author of "The Birds of East Africa." A real scientist. (I just checked: 1913-1997.) Anyway, he shared the following with me: "I have skinned thousands of birds caught in mist nets. Every single one of them, from tiny passerines to large raptors, had bruises on their breasts that matched the pattern of the net that they struck at high speed." A small percentage of birds caught in mist nets die upon impact and still others perish or are injured while being removed or afterwards.

    At Cape May NJ, the folks who band raptors stick the birds in various cans using tennis ball cans for birds like Cooper's Hawk. Well, one young intern was doing a program at the state park, grabbed a Coop in a can, took it out, and was dismayed to find that it was dead. He composed himself, grabbed another tennis ball can, took out another dead Coop, and ran away crying.

    Most folks who see a lot of shorebirds wind up seeing a few banded birds, especially Red Knots. And there are lots of banded gulls and terns out there too. Back to the shorebirds. I have seen Sanderling limping in obvious discomfort, constantly picking at their bands with their bills. Reports of banded birds in distress are as common as hen's teeth.

    At Bonaventure, the biologists have a neat way of capturing the gannets while they are incubating. They have a wire noose on the end of a long pole. They maneuver the noose around the neck of the gannet and then yank the bird onto the viewing deck. Nice work, but not if you are a gannet.

    And if you want to see disturbance, visit a colony or rookery being studied by scientists. Watch the birds fly off in a constant panic as researchers walk through the colonies, weighing eggs, grabbing chicks, trapping adults, weighing, measuring and marking every thing in sight. And the main purpose of all of this mist netting, banding, trapping, and disturbance? In many cases the driving force is getting ones name on a research paper, published article, or thesis.

    Artie, don't you realize all the good that these scientists and biologists are doing, saving this and that species, learning about the natural world? What's wrong with you? How dare you criticize them.

    I understand all of that. I just do not like being told, "That bird looked at you. You are disturbing it. You are a criminal. All bird photographers are criminals."

    Man, you gotta love it.

    I am wondering how the biologists, and there are at least a few here at BPN, feel about all of the injuries and disturbance wrought by scientists and students looking to get their names on a research paper. Please do chime in.

    If anyone else knows the details of disturbance of colonies or injuries to birds caused by biologists, please feel free to contribute that information.
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    Lifetime Member Jay Gould's Avatar
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    Artie, this has been online all day and not one comment - I will keep you company.

    "I just do not like being told, "That bird looked at you. You are disturbing it. You are a criminal. All bird photographers are criminals.""

    Has someone recently said this to you? Whom and where? Did you appropriately respond to the person, or were you unfortunately tactful?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Gould View Post
    Artie, this has been online all day and not one comment - I will keep you company.
    "I just do not like being told, "That bird looked at you. You are disturbing it. You are a criminal. All bird photographers are criminals."" Has someone recently said this to you? Whom and where? Did you appropriately respond to the person, or were you unfortunately tactful?
    Hi Jay, I appreciate your company. I sort of expected to get castigated for this post, and in no way did I expect indifference.

    As regular BAA Bulletin readers know, I (along with my group) was told by the refuge biologist (at a mandatory--for photography groups only as far as I know) session, "If a Snow Goose raises its head to look at you, you are disturbing it." This, at a refuge where hunting is allowed.

    As a lover of what is (www.thework.com), I was quite tactful and lots of good came out of the meeting. (Do a search for the Bosque Volunteer Project in the Bulletin Archives.)

    I added the "criminal" part as a comment on the continuting war against (nature) photographers. If you are not aware of this conflict, then you must live in the boonies or have your head in the sand. Here are just a few: Ding Darling closed on Fridays and open only at 7:30 am daily regardless of the time of sunrise partly to give the birds a break from photographers and--according to a volunteer--partly as punishment. Well, as they have managed the birds away from the roads it is no big deal now, and a tram only poliy is coming soon.

    Bosque: a threat to restrict visitors to their vehicles.

    Fort DeSoto Park, where windsurfers often disturb large flocks of shorebirds, the closing of The Point as a nesting area during the nesting season only three years ago. Only one bird--an oystercatcher--nested successfully in the area and lost its chicks because of human disturbance--North Beach Lagoon is one of the premier beaches in the US. Least Terns and skimmers attempt to nest at the point most years, but never succeed as there are simply too many people in the area which in addition, is subject to storm flooding every spring. With virtually zero success one might expect that The Point would be reopened. Instead, it has been closed permanently year round.

    At a NWR in northern Missouri-I forget the name, all visitors MUST be off the tour roads by sunset. When I asked the refuge manager why, he stated that it was to protect the integrity of the refuge. Strange, as there are numerous hunting clubs on the eastern border of the refuge where the geese are shot at dawn each day.

    The reconstructed fence and the phony signs at the Cave Store Cliffs in LaJolla, the premier place in the world to photograph breeding plumage Pacific Brown Pelicans.

    Biolgists railing at photographers for approaching a shorebird nest too closely while they are dragging the tundra with ropes, handling the chicks and eggs, and otherwise causing havoc.

    The list goes on and on. The fact is that most refuge managers view all nature photogphers more as criminals than as allies.

    I would love to hear from others, especially from the biologists. Hey, I have often stated that one team of researchers in a tern colony causes more disturbance on a single day than all US bird photographers combined in a year.
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    Axel Hildebrandt
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    I would give biologists (I am not one) the benefit of the doubt that they really try to help birds in the bigger picture. When it comes to banding, I don't think that one little ring per leg if properly done causes leg injuries. Canadian researchers put big yellow neck bands on adult female snow geese that supposedly don't have a negative impact on their life expectancy. That may be true but I don't know if the geese are comfortable not being able to get rid of it. Last year I saw red knots with 2-3 rings and even little flags on each leg. Particularly the flags are so big that I have a hard time imagining they don't cause discomfort. The numerous little rings seem somewhat outdated to me. Isn't this what computer databases are for?

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    Nonda Surratt
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    Not birds but mammals. Some biologists came to a large rehab facility and the goal was to weigh and draw blood on some young fox squirrels ready for releases. Being ready for release means they want nothing to do with humans. The day was hot, in the 90's, in the name of science (which absolves much it seems) they chased those squirrels around the pre-release pen, all but 2 died from heat exhaustion and stress. Believe it or not that is even in some regs that mammals should be weighed before release! If I can pick up any mammal it isn't ready for release...Biologists at work here:)

    BUT! While there are way too many bio folks that really don't have a clue about stress, can't paint them all with the same bad brush, just like can happen with photographers. I'm on the Mammal-L list which is operated out of the Smithsonian and those mammalogists jump though hoops to keep stress and disturbance to a minimum.

    Pushing any wild off a nest is disturbance, my thoughts, but to say that when one looks at you you have disturbed it is over the top, if they are that bugged they will fly, run off and most times not far. ALL wilds have a comfort zone and it is different for each individual, observation, common sense and care are key here. Some wilds are more easily stressed than others, Coops are really high on the stress list as far as being handled, Screech owls not so much. (examples from rehab) Snow geese, we get a couple migrating though here every year, are much calmer about humans than Wood ducks. the SG look at you and then tuck their head under a wing and go back to resting, W-d's have already left the building.

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    Nonda Surratt
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    Axel,

    Couple years ago I was seeing CG's coming though with several different colored neck bands so I called the head bird guy at division. He said "there are so many different colored neck bands for CG's we don't even try and keep track anymore.

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    Artie, your comments regarding biologist remind me of Al Gore traveling the world in a private jet and living in a huge home while he condemns me and my carbon footprint for driving an SUV or use incandescent light bulbs. Because they think they are on the correct side of the issue, they are somehow free to do whatever they like, the end justifies the means.

    I agree with your comments regarding the war against nature photographers. It bothers me when groups like The Nature Conservancy, which I mostly agree with their purpose, ask me for monetary support then they close off some of the properties they buy with the money I donate. If they continue to close off these areas they will loose valuable support. I do understand protecting the wildlife, but if they restrict access to the point where it can no longer be enjoyed by those who pay to protect them (Ding Darling), they will loose that support. I think the attitude will become, "if I can't visit Ding Darling and enjoy it, then why do I care if it exist". It will become the exclusive domain of the biologist and care takers.

    I hope I am making sense and not just rambling.

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    I understand what you are saying Axel. I just wish that folks would give photographers that same benefit of the doubt. Several times in my 25 years I have been accused, tried, and hung without ever being able to either defend myself or confront my accusers, all the while biologists get a free pass.
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    chad anderson
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    Wow, I did't know about all this biologist-photographer tension. Biologists and photographers are the same IMO. Some do it right, and some do it wrong. But generally they have the same mission- to promote, protect and preserve the wonder of the natural resources. There is one difference I can think of though. Biologist have a degree of oversight to their actions, such as section 7 and special use permitting. Its really ashame to see this "rift" among communities that should be staunch allies!

    Can't we all just get along! :)

    As far as photographers not getting the benefit of the doubt...well I've never seen it. I have worked for four well-known agencies in Florida and I have never heard a land manager or biologist say "man we really got to get these photographers out of here, they are really messing thing up". But I have to admit, going to places like Yellowstone, you can be really ashmed of photographers as you see them running down the street by the hundereds chasing fleeing wildlife.

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    Hi Chad, Glad to see you sharing your thoughts here. As far as some biologists doing it right, and some doing it wrong, that overlooks the fact that mist netting injures and kills lots of birds each year whether it is done right or wrong. And I do not understand how having this or that permit gives anyone the right to injure and kill birds.

    Of course there are photographers whom give us all a bad name as there are in any group. And yes, I am with you in being quite ashamed of that small group.

    When you commented on my "Little Dutch Boy" post, you asked, "I guess the main question is this: if there is even the slightest possibility that even a word of what decades of research has said is possibly applicable to egrets, is it really worth the risk to get a close up?

    I would like to ask you this: As it is a fact that banding birds injures and kills at least a small percentage of the birds being studied, is it really worth the injury to and death of the very birds that biologists are studying (so that they can get their name on a research paper or publish their thesis)?
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    ps: In that same thread, you wrote, "Wow looks like I missed a good debate after my comments. I dont really have much else to say except for I am glad a dialog has been started on the issue!" Yet here you ask, "Can't we all just get along! :) "

    All that I intended to do here was start a dialogue on an important issue.

    I realize that nature photographers and biologists need to be on the same team. And I hope that this thread develops so that that comes to pass.
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    Hi Artie

    Our local bird groups here seem to be banding crazy. At some sites its not worth bothering visiting with the camera now as every bird has a ring on its leg. I have seen plenty of waders with damaged ringed legs. How much value is gained from ringing data except saying this bird travelled from A to B so many times I have to wonder, surely most of that information is now known. Surely if all the money and time that is put in to ringing studies was actually directed towards habitat development and protection the birds would be better off. One observation I have made is that birds that have been through the ringing process always seem more approachable which in itself can be frustrating.

    There is a bit of war going on the in the UK between birdwatchers and photographers which has become particularly acute this winter. Some of the antics of the bird watchers and a minority of photographers defies belief which is why I rarely go after rare birds as it is a usually a bit of a depressing affair. Part of the probelm I believe has developed with spotting scopes and most bird watcher believe there is no need to get with 1/2 a mile of a bird and if you are then your disturbing it. A good example is one of our local beaches that waders use to roost has effectively has now become out of bounds to photographers this winter, although the dogwalkers are allowed to continue. I visited this particular beach earlier in the winter and lay down about 100 yards away from a group of knot and sanderling. The birds were not bothered by my presence and I waited for them to move along the tide line towards me. About 10 minutes later I have two voluntary wardens tapping me on the shoulder and asking me to vacate the beach for disturbing the birds. Let me point out at this stage as you all know its not in the photographers interest to scare off what they are trying to photograph and the welfare of the subject should always the number 1 priority. As I defended my actions, although admittedly without success, a woman came strolling along the beach with two dogs which put the whole flock up. Surely the wardens would have better spent their time talking to the dog walker than picking on the photographer. Subequent to this I sent a photo of feeding knot to the head warden indicating that it was at very close range and would not have continued feeding it it was stressed or concerned by my presence.

    In fact another local beach where I can still go, I will often lie in wait for the tide to bring the birds into range only to have a dog run across my view just as the birds are where I want them. When its not dogs then its the kite surfers.

    The situations seems to be getting worse as there seem to be more and more photographers appearing who have bought the kit but don't have a clue about fieldcraft and will go to any lengths to try and get a photo and it is generally these people that seem to be giving photographer the bad name.

    I will climb down off my soapbox now.

    Cheers

    Rich

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    In many cases the driving force is getting ones name on a research paper, published article, or thesis.
    OK, as a scientist I'll object.

    But first, a (funny) true story.
    I was working in a National Park (I'm not going to give names) on geologic mapping and cryptobiotic soils mapping. I was being given a tour by the local biologist. Jokingly, I said we study rocks because they don't change much with time. The biologist responds: "I study plants because they don't move fast. Those researchers who study animals really have it tough!"

    Now back to Art's quote above. I feel this is as uniformed and inflammatory as Art's concern over the perception of photographers by the biologists he is complaining about. Just as in any field there are exceptions, the vast majority of scientists did not go into science for fame or fortune. Most are very passionate about their research, and their goal is not simply to put their name on a research paper. Their goal is in general to find something interesting that will make a difference in the world. To accomplish that, you must publish the results, because after all, if you do not, then there will be no good coming out of it. Publishing is necessary, but to the scientist, the goal is the knowledge and insight found by a particular study, and to see that knowledge used to further understanding.

    Having said that, there are always researchers who have an agenda. Often it is to conduct research that furthers their pet theory or life goal. I have met a fair number of these people. They are not in my opinion top researchers, although many do very good work. In one National Park which had a problem my group could help monitor and solve, the attitude was (probably still is) it's our park and if we could put up a fence and keep everyone out, the park would finally be protected. I'm still waiting for the research permit, even though it has been over 10 years with neither a granting or denial of the permit. But in other parks, the researchers are very accommodating and great people to work with.

    The point is that there are "people with attitude" in every walk of life, including photographers, researchers, and the general public. Photographers get a bad name by the acts of a few, whether it be the uninformed amateur photographer or the pro who does something bad. Like the guy who cut down a tree after he photographed a well known scene because he didn't want anyone else to take that picture (like it hadn't been photographed a million times before). Incidents like that make those who manage any region skeptical of other photographers.

    So Art, I would suggest not damming researchers in general and when you see one practicing poor methodology, use your photographic skills to record the practice and use the images to 1) get the practice changed, and/or 2) the people doing it retrained or fired. (Remember those video modes on the new cameras.)

    Somewhere I have a paragraph from the National Park Service about the Grand Canyon National Park regarding the banning of cars. It goes something like this:

    People are at a view point enjoying the view. A bus pulls up and a bunch of people get out crowding the viewpoint. The bus keeps its engine running and and the diesel fumes and noise permeated the crowd, ruining the experience. So, we will ban cars. Now you have to take a bus.

    Huh? What research led to that management decision? Research is not always acted upon by management in the way one might think. Similarly, if you feel a research practice is wrong, work to change it.

    I've rambled enough.

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    There is a bit of war going on the in the UK between birdwatchers and photographers which has become particularly acute this winter. Some of the antics of the bird watchers and a minority of photographers defies belief which is why I rarely go after rare birds as it is a usually a bit of a depressing affair. Part of the probelm I believe has developed with spotting scopes and most bird watcher believe there is no need to get with 1/2 a mile of a bird and if you are then your disturbing it.
    Hi Rich, from the quote above you can substitute "UK" for "Canada" (and probably most any other place) and you have the same situation here.

    I don't want to pick on all birders, as there are some that I consider friends and are not as overly protective or reactive as the others. There is often a big public brou-ha-ha done by birding groups about baiting (doesn't matter if it's done in moderation or respectfully), or if a photographer is within "1/2 mile" of any bird, but when a well known owl's nest suffers an unfortunate casualty due to banding efforts no word is heard of it anywhere...I guess it's OK in the name of "study"!! Same goes for recorded calls. Try to lure a bird using tapes when birders are present...good luck! But for them it's OK when doing bird counts or doing a birding tours.

    Biologists and photographers are the same IMO. Some do it right, and some do it wrong. But generally they have the same mission- to promote, protect and preserve the wonder of the natural resources.
    I agree with the above quote by Chad, but the difference is the way we are perceived and the reactions generated by other groups (again, most often birders - especially the hardcore ones). I guess I'm trying to say is that it seems there is generally more tension between birders/photographers then there is between biologists/photographers

    Like Artie says, I wish we were all given the same benefit of the doubt...
    Last edited by Daniel Cadieux; 03-28-2009 at 05:12 PM.

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    Thanks Rich, Roger, and Daniel for sharing your thoughts. Roger, you are either missing my major point or I am not doing a very good job of communicating it so I shall try again. Mist netting and banding cause injury and mortality. About that there is no doubt. Mist neting and banding is not "poor methodology". Both are accepted standard practices in avian research.

    Bird photographers who get "too close" (according to those who fail to realize is that the last thing a bird photographer wants if for the subject to fly away) or who "may cause harm" by feeding herons, egrets, gulls and pelicans that have become habituated to taking bait from fisherman for 10 decades are routinely castigated by birders, biologists, and refuge managers.

    All that I am asking is why the double standard? I have nothing against biologists and realize that many of them are out to do good. For little pay. And that includes my two sons-in-law.
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    As both a learning photographer and biologist in training I would like to give my two cents.

    I do not argue the fact that mist netting and banding birds causes stress and to a much lesser extent mortality. That being said, I think that the information gained by properly banding birds is extremely important. Much of the avian information that we have now is from these type of studies and will continue to provide unknown information to scientists as well as photographers and the public.

    As far as the publishing process is concerned. Not all (or even most) scientists are out to get there name on a publication or get a thesis published. The main reason for publication is to let the community have access to the information obtained in a study. This allows researchers to keep from doing unnecessary studies (repetitive identical studies) which in the long run reduces impact on the study organism. Lumping scientist in the "want to get published" category is as bad as people lumping photographers into the disturbing criminals category. This process is to spread knowledge, not to obtain a name on a paper for fame.

    As a photographer, I do not get the feeling that we are looked upon as criminals for the most part. Some individuals (usually the most vocal) may feel that we are intrusive on critters, but in general I feel welcomed in most places that I have been. I am very new to the photography gig and have not been to many of the high traffic areas that many other photographers visit. The feeling toward photographers may be different there, but my guess is that this was caused by a few bad apples. In general I think it is a few of the managers got a bad taste in their mouths from just a few bad photographers.

    To wrap it up, I think that mist netting and banding is very valuable to gain knowledge on the avian world. The benefit to both biologist, photographers, and future generations is hard to put a price on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Axel Hildebrandt View Post
    Last year I saw red knots with 2-3 rings and even little flags on each leg. Particularly the flags are so big that I have a hard time imagining they don't cause discomfort. The numerous little rings seem somewhat outdated to me. Isn't this what computer databases are for?
    Axel, this is used to identify individuals in populations that are generally in trouble. Using 2-3 bands allows the identification of an individual bird without being recaptured and thus reducing stress. The flags may be a little crazy though.

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    Lance Peters
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    Hi Artie - I have been quietly following this and the other thread about baiting. Everyone has their own view on what is right or wrong to them based upon their personal ethics.

    As the dominant species on this planet we interact with our surroundings everyday, a large percentage of us try do go about our lives with minimal impact on our enviroment/others.
    From what I am reading above they are saying Bird photographers cause birds stress - we as the dominant species on this planet and have stresses in our lives everyday - yes it can kill us - but it would need to be prolonged and extreme. Our species often loose yougsters before they fledge for a variety of reasons - Alcohol/Cars/SIDS the list goes on - are we banning cars or alcohol etc etc.


    I think there are bigger issues that could be adressed that would do more to help preserve our wildlife than worrying about the photographer that disturbs or feeds a bird - we had a extreme heatwave here recently and all our wildlife was very distressed - we had birds literally pecking on the front door of our house - obviously distressed - we provided water for them to cool off in - more came - soon they were everywhere.

    Did I do the wrong thing?? Did I cause them Further Stress?? Will they now arrive every day looking for water and die because they dont find any??

    Nobody wins UNLESS we all win (And that doesnt mean just us Humans)

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    I agree with you Artie! At 100%! This discussion are going on in Sweden too! Biologists/birdwatchers are often accusing us to disturbed the birds! But they don’t complain when they using the images in books and other media!
    I have noticed that raptors make the birds more afraid then me when I’m out in the field! Sometimes the birds fly away when i get to the photospot! But after 15-30 minutes they are back and almost use me as a viewpoint!

    Sorry about my poor English!!!

    /Magnus

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    Lance, Great stuff.

    Magnus. Not to mention their banding activities that maim and kill birds on occasion or their studies at rookeries and colonies where rampant disturbance is the rule. Mate, where are you from, Sweden?
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    Lance Peters
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    Common sense prevails in Australia at the moment at least - with my fav site ONLY accessible by photographers, no public access - at least the powers that be trust us photographers to do the right thing here in OZ.

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    Hey Lance, Please bottle some of that and send it over here! I may consider moving Down Under.
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    Good Mornin' Artie, don't you sleep OR do you have a BPN chip implant? :-)

    I forgot to add to this quickie - we are waitin' for you down under so that we can participate in one of your workshops. You bring the knowledge; we will identify the various areas to apply your knowledge - won't we Lance?!

    We will even "shout you a brewsky" !
    Last edited by Jay Gould; 03-29-2009 at 06:24 AM.

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    Artie,I have always been against ringing,that what it is called over here in uk,I know of a bird ringer ,who is a official ringer for eastlancs,the local tv company made a film about him ringing,they went to a peragrine site near to were I live,the climber went down to the nest site,put the chicks in a bag,they wer lifted up,all the chicks were alive when they wer put in,when they took them out to ring them,one was dead,they did not show this or mention this in the film.I was told this by a wildlife officer for that area,off the record.thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Gould View Post
    Good Mornin' Artie, don't you sleep OR do you have a BPN chip implant? :-)
    :) Actually, I am a morning person. Usually in bed by 9pm (or earlier) and then up at 4 or 4:30 am. I take a 20 minute nap most afternoons.
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    Quote Originally Posted by christopher galeski View Post
    Artie,I have always been against ringing,that what it is called over here in uk,I know of a bird ringer ,who is a official ringer for eastlancs,the local tv company made a film about him ringing,they went to a peragrine site near to were I live,the climber went down to the nest site,put the chicks in a bag,they wer lifted up,all the chicks were alive when they wer put in,when they took them out to ring them,one was dead,they did not show this or mention this in the film.I was told this by a wildlife officer for that area,off the record.thanks.
    From what I know, all bird banders are never keen to advertise the mishaps. In the book I mentioned above, the head raptor guy was pissed at the author for revealing (reporting is my choice of words there) on the pigeon jerking and the fact that some woman was watching the afore-mentioned pigeon jerking and had an animal rights fit. And they do not want anyone near their blinds lest they "disturb" the operation or could it be that they do not want anyone seeeing what goes on?
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    Thanks Artie for starting this thread,I have always been against banding (RINGING) IN THE UK.They still ring birds here that they know every thing about,sowhy do they keep traping them to ring.Allit does is cause birds a lot of stress,and in some cases death.thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    Lance, Great stuff.

    Magnus. Not to mention their banding activities that maim and kill birds on occasion or their studies at rookeries and colonies where rampant disturbance is the rule. Mate, where are you from, Sweden?
    Yes iīm from the town Falun in Sweden!

    /Magnus

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    Thanks Magnus. Are you pals with my old student Brutus?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    Thanks Rich, Roger, and Daniel for sharing your thoughts. Roger, you are either missing my major point or I am not doing a very good job of communicating it so I shall try again. Mist netting and banding cause injury and mortality. About that there is no doubt. Mist neting and banding is not "poor methodology". Both are accepted standard practices in avian research.
    Art,
    I was not objecting to your bringing up mist netting or banding issue, just calling researchers out to only get their name on papers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    Bird photographers who get "too close" (according to those who fail to realize is that the last thing a bird photographer wants if for the subject to fly away) or who "may cause harm" by feeding herons, egrets, gulls and pelicans that have become habituated to taking bait from fisherman for 10 decades are routinely castigated by birders, biologists, and refuge managers.

    All that I am asking is why the double standard? I have nothing against biologists and realize that many of them are out to do good. For little pay. And that includes my two sons-in-law.
    It is obvious that many people here feel strongly that mist netting and banding may do a lot of harm. If true, then the next step would be to document and expose the methods that are harmful and get them changed or banned.

    Life is full of double standards, and you have made the first step in bringing the issue to a wider audience. Next would bring it to an even wider audience with evidence. For example, how many deaths and injuries in a typical operation? Real data are needed here from researchers. Your Kenya example will not help unless the researcher wrote that down somewhere, even in a letter. But then some might argue that those practices were different there and it is done better here in ____ (fill in your country). It won't be easy, but with some cooperative researchers, the problem might get exposed and fixed.

    Changing perceptions will be harder. If photographers start documenting problems with research methods, the researchers really won't like photographers, and that could lead to more tensions and banning of photographers or closure of areas.

    Different but related topic: why is the FAA considering making the reports of birds hitting planes secret? Apparently the incident database has over 100,000 events.

    Roger

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    Mr. Morris and others against banding,
    Do you think that the information is valuable that is obtained from banding/ringing?

    If so, how do you propose we obtain that information in a less obtrusive manner? It is very easy to point out the flaws with a method, and most methods are not perfect. The difficult thing to do is to come up with a better method and be a proponent of that.

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    Jason Franke
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trey Barron View Post
    Mr. Morris and others against banding,
    Do you think that the information is valuable that is obtained from banding/ringing?

    If so, how do you propose we obtain that information in a less obtrusive manner? It is very easy to point out the flaws with a method, and most methods are not perfect. The difficult thing to do is to come up with a better method and be a proponent of that.

    I can't speak for Artie or anyone else; but we're not the people to be asking how to come up with better ways to catch birds. Catching and banding birds isnít our area of expertise, nor is designing and building nets or handling wild birds in the less stressful way. If you wanted a better lens for photographing birds, would you ask an ornithologist to build one?

    It's certainly seems clear to me though, that the people that should be able to develop better techniques and technologies aren't, either because they feel the losses are acceptable or they don't care to. Either way I have to agree with Artie, itís practically galling when Iím told Iím disturbing the birds when Iím doing everything I can not to. After all, if I scare the bird away or worse stress it to death; Iím certainly not going to get a natural image am I?

    Moreover, I think that birds are a lot more resilient than we (scientist/environmentalist/refuge managers) seem to give them credit for, at least when they arenít being physically molested or stuffed into a tennis ball tube. Iíd point at the Pines Blvd. Bald Eagle nest. Itís less than 100 feet from a very busy road, with heavy truck and pedestrian traffic, a bus stop, a school and a post office all with in spitting distance. The Eagles weren't forced to choose that tree, and it's almost certainly not the only viable site in that part of the county, itís likely not even the only viable site on that lot. Yet they're there and they seem, by the last accounts I've read at least, to be doing fine (even after idiots have trampled a path out to the tree and left their trash on the ground). That's not the only example either, the nesting Great Blues at Wakodahatchee don't appear to have any problems being <50 feet from a very busy boardwalk.

    Ultimately, I donít know if we need to fix what the scientists are doing, and Iím not even sure we can. What I think we do need to fix is work on our own public image. This is something I find exceedingly bizarre too. We photographers are responsible in some way for the public image of almost everything else. Yet as a group, we seem to be perceived as terrorists (see recent legislation in England), perverts and destroyers of the very environment we want to capture and protect. I think if we can fix our problem, and maybe bring some light to the issues we feel birds face in the hands of the scientists, they can fix their own (or otherwise show that they arenít as big of a problem as they seem).

    This is ultimately, what I think bothers Artie so much, I know itís what bothers me. Scientists are given a pass to go where they please and deliberately capture or kill birds (incidentally or not) while photographers are kept on the trail with the worst access (usually by design) during the worst light with little or no opportunity to do anything about it. All the while, we are being told we are destroying/hurting/killing the very thing we are trying to cause the least disturbance to in the first place. It only adds insult to injury, when you hear about some guy in a white coat pulling dead out of the tennis ball tubes they were stuffed in after the trauma of struggling in a net and yet nobody appears too bothered by that, itís just the cost of doing science. Of course, we/Artie are probably more bothered by it than we should be, because of the situation weíre put in to start with.

    Do I sound bitter? Because Iím sure I am, and Iím neither old enough nor a photographer long enough to have been around for the ďgood old daysĒ of unrestricted access to most refuges. Just looking at the current and proposed rules, and remembering your tax dollar is paying for this crap and your ability to use and enjoy it is being taken away should be enough.

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    IF you want to make a real change in the deaths of MILLIONS of birds urge governments and businesses of tower blocks to turn off their lights at night and make communication towers safer. http://tinyurl.com/cn5yto
    It seems to me this thread is a red herring designed to move blame from photographers by disparaging others and is not needed.

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    Lifetime Member Jay Gould's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trey Barron View Post
    Mr. Morris and others against banding,
    Do you think that the information is valuable that is obtained from banding/ringing?

    If so, how do you propose we obtain that information in a less obtrusive manner? It is very easy to point out the flaws with a method, and most methods are not perfect. The difficult thing to do is to come up with a better method and be a proponent of that.
    Trey, earlier you wrote:

    "As both a learning photographer and biologist in training I would like to give my two cents. I do not argue the fact that mist netting and banding birds causes stress and to a much lesser extent mortality. That being said, I think that the information gained by properly banding birds is extremely important. Much of the avian information that we have now is from these type of studies and will continue to provide unknown information to scientists as well as photographers and the public."

    I do not know if you read the Supplemental Feeding thread; however I asked you the following:

    "To whom is it important? A segment of our tax paying public that does not believe in animal research for medical reasons; do you think they believe you should band birds, count birds etc.?"

    Trey, you also said regarding multiple bands:

    "Axel, this is used to identify individuals in populations that are generally in trouble. Using 2-3 bands allows the identification of an individual bird without being recaptured and thus reducing stress."

    Again in the Feeding Thread I commented:

    "Ah ha! If the scientists decide that a ďpopulation is in troubleĒ it is OK to engage in standard practices that WILL result in injury and mortality; however, if a photographer wants that super close shot then the scientist asks if it is necessary!"

    NOW, let's go back to your initial question:

    "
    Do you think that the information is valuable that is obtained from banding/ringing?"

    I would suggest that your question assumes too much on your behalf and on behalf of your readers.

    First, in asking the question in the manner in which you have, you want everyone to assume that the information is valuable and explain why it isn't.

    Secondly, you have failed to identify "the informa- tion" you or anyone should evaluate as being or not being valuable.

    Therefore, if you want to have a discussion about the value of banding and the information obtained from banding, please tell us what information you believe is obtained from banding, why you believe it is valuable, and to whom do you believe it is valuable.

    You are asking different levels of photographers to provide you with their opinion whether the results of avian research is or isn't valuable.

    Please provide a summary of the results of the research you consider valuable, and we will attempt to tell you whether - in our avian uneducated opinion - we also consider that result valuable and justifying banding.

    Concluding, by the way, with your statement "others against banding", where in any of the posts did any of the posters specifically say they were against banding?

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    "To whom is it important? A segment of our tax paying public that does not believe in animal research for medical reasons; do you think they believe you should band birds, count birds etc.?"

    I believe that it should be important to all people that care about the future of avian populations. The general taxpayer probably does not care, but that is one reason the birds are in trouble in the first place.


    "Ah ha! If the scientists decide that a “population is in trouble” it is OK to engage in standard practices that WILL result in injury and mortality; however, if a photographer wants that super close shot then the scientist asks if it is necessary!"

    Who else is going to decide? The birds can not do it. When you say "WILL result in injury and mortality" that is a strong statement. Most birds that are banded live long healthy lives. The injury and mortality is an occasional occurrence. What scientist are asking if the super close shots are necessary?


    NOW, let's go back to your initial question:

    "
    Do you think that the information is valuable that is obtained from banding/ringing?"

    I would suggest that your question assumes too much on your behalf and on behalf of your readers.

    First, in asking the question in the manner in which you have, you want everyone to assume that the information is valuable and explain why it isn't.

    I do not want everyone to assume that the information is valuable. I just want to know the opinions of the information. Do we need it or not?

    Secondly, you have failed to identify "the informa- tion" you or anyone should evaluate as being or not being valuable.

    Therefore, if you want to have a discussion about the value of banding and the information obtained from banding, please tell us what information you believe is obtained from banding, why you believe it is valuable, and to whom do you believe it is valuable.

    You are asking different levels of photographers to provide you with their opinion whether the results of avian research is or isn't valuable.

    Please provide a summary of the results of the research you consider valuable, and we will attempt to tell you whether - in our avian uneducated opinion - we also consider that result valuable and justifying banding.


    I did assume that people that were opposed to banding did know what the banding was for. My apologies. Information that is obtained includes movement/migration patterns, population trends, dispersal of young, survival, sex ratios, breeding success, growth rates, body condition over time, and distribution of species to name the major ones.

    I believe that this information is vital in protecting avian populations from problems(most caused by man). If we know nothing about the birds we love so much then how do we protect them or even manage areas for them.

    Concluding, by the way, with your statement "others against banding", where in any of the posts did any of the posters specifically say they were against banding?
    [/quote]
    christopher galeski wrote "Thanks Artie for starting this thread,I have always been against banding (RINGING) IN THE UK.They still ring birds here that they know every thing about,sowhy do they keep traping them to ring.Allit does is cause birds a lot of stress,and in some cases death.thanks."

    I am in know way am saying the system is perfect. I too wish there was a way to do this without causing stress to the birds. I think that overall, a breif stress from being captured, banded, and released is much less important to argue about than the real stresses that are being placed upon birds. Habitat loss, climate change, vehicle collisions, wind farms, building collisions are all having more of an impact on the birds than scientist or photographers. Do not forget that I am both.

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    "When you say "WILL result in injury and mortality" that is a strong statement. Most birds that are banded live long healthy lives. The injury and mortality is an occasional occurrence. What scientist are asking if the super close shots are necessary?"

    Of course it is a strong statement, and it is a true statement! You just said "most birds" and you also said "occasional occurrence". Haven't you just admitted that banding "will result in injury and mortality"?

    What the scientist asks: "is a super close shot necessary"?

    What the photographer says: compare the "disturbance" of the birds from a super close shot with the injuries and deaths caused from banding. Which is worse?

    Earlier you said, and I have intentionally dealt with this secondly:

    "I believe that it should be important to all people that care about the future of avian populations. The general taxpayer probably does not care, but that is one reason the birds are in trouble in the first place."

    You believe it "should be"; isn't that typical of scientists in that they set themselves up as the standard that others must follow and if the general public doesn't like what the scientist advocates - too bad - it is being done in the name of science!

    "I did assume that people that were opposed to banding did know what the banding was for. My apologies. Information that is obtained includes movement/migration patterns, population trends, dispersal of young, survival, sex ratios, breeding success, growth rates, body condition over time, and distribution of species to name the major ones. I believe that this information is vital in protecting avian populations from problems (most caused by man). If we know nothing about the birds we love so much then how do we protect them or even manage areas for them."

    I am being the Devil's Advocate: Who loves the birds so much; the general public or a tiny minority of society? The general public couldn't give a stuff about all of the birds in general. The general public would say spend the money on matters directly related to man; put more money into medical research; screw the birds.

    I am not saying the general public is right; however, this is a democracy, and the general public should be able to decide how their tax dollars are spent.

    Thanks for pointing out one of the posts against banding.

    Frankly, I am not against banding nor do I believe that most of the photographers are against banding.

    The one thing you left out is that the study of the birds and other creatures is really the study of how healthy an area is for Man. If the birds or frogs or other creatures are dying off we need to know why because there might be a problem that in addition to affecting the creatures might affect Man.

    At the end of the day I believe that all the photographers are saying to the scientists and those members of the general public that support the scientists is that all of the activities of the photographers combined result in substantially less stress to the avian population or any animal population than the activities of the scientists (and the bird watchers).

    And yes, if you want to count the same birds over and over and over, then I want to get close up images of the same birds over and over and over, and my doing so will - unlike your banding and other study techniques - not result in either injuries or mortalities to the extent of the scientific activities.

    To apply a very appropriate saying: What is good for the goose is good for the gander!

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    I really don't understand this thread at all. The two issues under discussion (photography of birds for fun and/or profit and netting/banding birds for research purposes) are totally unrelated IMO. Much useful information that has helped bird conservation has been gained from netting/ banding birds and, with newer advances such as radiotelemetry, even more useful info will be obtained. I've volunteered and assisted researchers banding birds for several years. Yes, the possibility of injury and death from the nets is small but real. Recaptured banded birds will sometimes show injuries to the legs from the bands, even amputations. But what in the world does that really have to do with bird photography? It seems as if you are saying: alright,I may sometimes disturb birds during photography, but I'm not doing anything nearly as bad as researchers. I don't see the connection. It's kind of like saying: ok, I may be throwing rocks and driving birds off the nests to photograph them in flight, but that's not nearly as bad as hunters who actually shoot and kill birds, therefore, it should be ok for me to do this.

    If you feel that a lot of unnecessary research is being done, then do your research on the subject, and publish or otherwise voice your informed opinions. Don't just quote a lot of anecdotal information. Maybe there is a lot of unecessary research being done. Maybe changes in research methods, training and permit processes need to be changed. But again what does that have to do with bird photography?

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    Hi Ed, I am not sure who you are addressing?

    The scientists who say that photographers should not take close shots because it disturbs the birds, or the photographers who say to the scientists:

    stop complaining about photographers;

    what you scientists do is more harmful to the birds and we photographers support what you do so how about supporting us photographers too?

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    I went to this report.
    http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/towerkillweb.pdf

    To me it is a very incomplete piece of research. It documents 545,250 dead birds listed as killed by towers. That covers 230 species. But what the report fails to document is how many total days in the survey. The data were collected over 50 years! Nor are there any documented reports of bird deaths in areas not near a tower. How do we know those were all due to tower deaths without a comparison to non-tower areas? Birds die everywhere.

    I have found 4 dead birds in my yard in 13 years at my current house. I could conclude they were due to collisions with my house. I know of one collision with the house, but the bird flew away. Three of the bird deaths occurred in the year West Nile virus hit Colorado, and the 4th was the year after.

    The point is one can use data for multiple purposes, and unless careful controls are on the study, one can't actually prove a single given cause. So given those caveats, the study above reported 525,250 dead birds over some 50 years at some X number of towers. X is not given although 47 sites were given some of which have 32 towers. Assuming 1000 towers, that works out to about 10.5 birds per tower per year assuming all the birds were killed by towers.

    And if the bird population in the US is ~5 billion, over 50 years, its a pretty small mortality rate.

  40. #40
    William Malacarne
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    Quote Originally Posted by rnclark View Post
    I went to this report.
    Assuming 1000 towers, that works out to about 10.5 birds per tower per year assuming all the birds were killed by towers.

    And if the bird population in the US is ~5 billion, over 50 years, its a pretty small mortality rate.
    But if you look at the whole picture where there are probably many 100,000's of towers in the USA then 10.5 birds per year starts to become a fairly large number. But I whole heartily agree that the numbers they give are basically useless.

    One place where I am very sure that tagging has been very useful is with the California Condor program.

    Bill

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    Quote Originally Posted by William Malacarne View Post
    But if you look at the whole picture where there are probably many 100,000's of towers in the USA then 10.5 birds per year starts to become a fairly large number. But I whole heartily agree that the numbers they give are basically useless.

    One place where I am very sure that tagging has been very useful is with the California Condor program.

    Bill
    This is so much fun :D

    Let's assume 1,000,000 towers and 10,000,000 birds are killed by the towers every year.

    Hmmmm

    5 billion birds create how many new birds each year reduced by 10 million birds that die as a result of the 1 million towers that benefit Man?

    Seems like a good trade to me - 1,000,000 towers for Man; 10 million out of "X" billion birds born each year scarified for the benefit of Man.

    I don't have a problem with those numbers assuming the correctness of the assumptions for the purpose of this discussion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by William Malacarne View Post
    But if you look at the whole picture where there are probably many 100,000's of towers in the USA then 10.5 birds per year starts to become a fairly large number. But I whole heartily agree that the numbers they give are basically useless.
    Large with out context is meaningless.

    1 death is huge when the population is 10, but one clearly isn't a large number.

    Lets not even make up numbers though, lets assume that the article did sufficient research on easily countable things like comm towers and go from there.

    The tower kills article claims there were over 77,000 (lets round that up to 78K) comm. towers as of 2000. assuming the 5K new towers built per year number they give is accurate, that would mean there is about 118K towers now. At Rodger's estimated 10.5 kills/tower/year that's 1.2M kills per year. Assuming the population number of 5B that Rodger gives is accurate, then tower strikes account for 0.025%, that's one quarter of one tenth of one percent,of the population. Either way unless there are specific cases where certain populations are impacted disproportionately, I don't see the problem at all.

    Talking about fallacies though, the paper is the biggest red herring in this thread.

  43. #43
    Lifetime Member Jay Gould's Avatar
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    Jason, of that there is no doubt - a giant red herring; however, using the numbers lets you put this whole discussion into perspective.

    I doubt all of the scientific methods of avian study combined have that much affect on the bird population.

    If everyone would simply practice "live and let live" or better yet - MYOB - everyone would be better off including the birds.

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    Tonight on the local news (Denver), wildlife biologists were describing how they harass and scare huge numbers of birds (even shooting guns). They are employed by Denver International Airport to keep birds from colliding with planes. Then the news cut to the hunters in the airport area and showed them shooting geese out of the sky with planes passing overhead, all close to the airport. Just an interesting perspective. But I bet a photographer would be harassed out there for taking pictures--after all they are probably casing the airport for terrorist activities--what else would they be doing.

    Impressive numbers of birds by the airport....maybe I'll have to take my big lens out there. ;-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Peters View Post
    Common sense prevails in Australia at the moment at least - with my fav site ONLY accessible by photographers, no public access - at least the powers that be trust us photographers to do the right thing here in OZ.
    Lance,

    I am saddened reading all the posts in this and the "baiting" - supplemental, threads. I suppose we are quite lucky in the land of Oz that the madness had not yet reached the end of the world.

    As far as I am aware, we as photographers, are pretty free to do how we want and where within reason and for that I quote the famous line, well not verbatim perhaps - Australia, the lucky country. :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Steel View Post
    Hi Artie

    How much value is gained from ringing data except saying this bird travelled from A to B so many times I have to wonder, surely most of that information is now known.

    If you don't repeat this type of study over time, you'll never find out about changes in migration patterns.

    Bill

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    Bill that is a reasonable point and obviously there is value for study of migration. Indeed I have several times passed on ring information to the local bird group when I have been able to read the information from a photograph.

    I will hold up my hands and not claim to be an ornithologist but I am a photographer and it concerns me how our freedom is being eroded by misinformation, the mindless actions of a few and increased regulation. The main issue I have with ringing studies is with the continued wholesale ringing of resident woodlands species associated with nest box schemes. Surely this area has been studied to exhaustion and its sad to see some of the small passerines suffering with leg injuries.

    Cheers

    Rich

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    c.w. moynihan
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    Yes, I agree Arthur. It is ludricous to suggest that banding activities are not stressful and perhaps dangerous to birds..... Far worse imo, than a photographer using a call or bait to take a picture of a subject. I am reminded of hummingbird banders... the nets are set up the day before and these birds are entangled, struggling for hours, unable to feed before they are found in the nets, banded and released. Talk about stress to an animal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    ps: In that same thread, you wrote, "Wow looks like I missed a good debate after my comments. I dont really have much else to say except for I am glad a dialog has been started on the issue!" Yet here you ask, "Can't we all just get along! :) "

    All that I intended to do here was start a dialogue on an important issue.

    I realize that nature photographers and biologists need to be on the same team. And I hope that this thread develops so that that comes to pass.
    I have resisted contributing because is appears that all people want to do is fight, which is hugely non-productive. Then I read the quote above from Artie (my red letters).

    Problem is Artie that this will not happen if inflammatory and inaccurate things continue to be said. E.g.:

    1. Biologists only do research to get their name on papers
    2. "Biologists have been and are given a free pass".
    3. All birds mist-netted are damaged by the nets
    4. "I am reminded of hummingbird banders... the nets are set up the day before and these birds are entangled, struggling for hours, unable to feed before they are found in the nets, banded and released."

    I can provide detailed reasons why the above points are fallacious but I won't, so don't bother asking.

    Finally I think that Ed Erkes' and Roy Priest's posts on this subject hit the nail on the head.
    Last edited by John Chardine; 04-03-2009 at 12:44 PM.

  50. #50
    Peregrine Craig Nash
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    Here is my take on the care taken by BTO Bird Ringers
    http://peregrinesbirdblog.blogspot.c...-training.html

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