Birding Etiquette

A few tips for birding field trips, tours, or anytime you’re birding by yourself or in a group:

  • Be on time.
  • Rotate position on trails.
  • Observe the queue when using the group scope—take a brief initial view, then return for a longer one when everyone has had a chance at a first view.
  • Keep in mind that in order to find most birds you will be encroaching on their territory, so tread lightly and respect boundaries.
  • Silence is golden. The keen senses of birds alert them to your presence, often long before you have a chance to see them. Whether alone or in a group, walk as quietly as possible and talk softly. Take cues from the leader who might signal for quiet as the group approaches a bird. Quiet walks will also help when listening for bird calls.
  • Take extra care when in an active nesting area. It is hard enough for birds to compete with each other for mates and space; human interference causes additional stress.
  • Make sure you are not trespassing on private property. Some bird sanctuaries are located on someone’s land, whose owners may not enjoy strangers with binoculars trekking around their backyard. Make sure you have permission to bird beforehand.
  • Don’t be a Peeping Tom! Avoid pointing your binoculars at other people or their homes.
  • While some birders prefer solitude, others bird in groups and enjoy sharing their findings. If you are new to birding, don’t be shy; there is sure to be a more knowledgeable birder in the group willing to pass on tips and sightings.
  • Don’t smoke.

And most important, enjoy yourself! Don’t be too concerned about finding that rare bird or spotting more species than last month. Birding is meant to be informative but also fun.