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In April we had a pleasant ramble around Gherang Gherang Bushland Reserve, but with only a few species of bird to be seen.

Highlights were brief views of a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike at the beginning, and a Wedge-tailed Eagle at the end. However a disused Eagle’s nest sparked an interesting discussion on birding ethics.

Did you know that Birdlife Australia has now stopped publishing photos of active birds’ nests for the following reasons? Photographers may cause damage to the nest or nest site, cause nest desertion or stress to the nesting adults or nestlings, and attract predators to the nest site.

Another current emotive issue is attempting to attract birds by the use of bird-call playback from phone apps. This is also actively discouraged or prohibited due to its impact on bird behaviour and therefore the potential to affect the wellbeing of birds. Some negative results from using it are the increase of aggressive behaviours and territorial disputes, and the expending of vital energy and time needed for nesting, caring for their young, foraging, seeking mates and/or adequately defending their territory.

Ethical issues from times past (which still occur in many countries) include egg collecting, catching and caging wild birds, and even the routine shooting of birds by professional bird experts in order to add to their collections. “The growing split between members of the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union (RAOU) attitudes to bird-study came to a head at the 1935 campout at Marlo, eastern Victoria, when a museum ornithologist, George Mack, provocatively shot a scarlet robin at its nest, which had been under observation by the party. This caused outrage among many members…The result was a policy that collecting of specimens, except under government permit, was not acceptable…(Ref: Wikipedia).

And we still allow duck shooting today? This is even though ‘the results of aerial waterbird surveys conducted across eastern Australia last year… were the lowest on record ….in 34 years of surveys. Ref: Australian Birdlife, Vol. 6 No. 1 March 17

Ellinor Campbell
Photo taken by Margaret Lacey