Seven Principles

4 Leave No Trace Tips for Bountiful Birding

Michael Taylor - January 6, 2022

While outdoor activities of every kind have surged in the wake of the pandemic, one, in particular, has seen an enormous increase – birding! In an eggshell birding or birdwatching is an activity that consists of finding and observing birds in their natural habitat. You can view them in your neighborhood, local park or on a national forest trail. It is a leisurely activity, in which you may stroll near a creek, grassland or other natural area and observe our feathered friends. No matter where you go or which bird you are searching for, practicing Leave No Trace on your birding trips will help protect the birds and views. 

Two tree swallows before sunrise puffed up against the cold by Dulcey Lima at Morton Arboretum, Lisle, United States.

1.) Always bring an extra set of eyes. 

One item you don’t want to go birding without is binoculars or a ZOOM camera lens. Using these items will help keep plenty of space between you and the birds allowing you to not disturb them and to observe their natural behaviors. When birding in your neighborhood be mindful of where your lenses are pointing. If private property owners seem uncomfortable by your presence, it might be time to move on.  

2.) Keep noise to a minimum. 

Birds are disturbed by loud or strange noises. Try keeping your noise levels low by splitting up large groups. The quieter you are, the more birds you will see. Additionally, refrain from using drones to capture images of the birds you see. The unnatural noise they create will startle the birds. Birding may be a time you want to leave your dog at home to avoid the chance of this predator’s presence scaring the birds away.

3.) Share your snacks, but not with the birds. 

Many of us probably remember feeding bread to the ducks as a kid. However, those days are in the past. While wildlife may seem like they appreciate human food in the moment, it can be damaging to their health. Wildlife, including birds, who get access to human food sources often become aggressive which can put you, other recreationists and these animals at risk. You can also protect birds and other wildlife by always packing out all of your trash. 

4.) Be considerate of other birders. 

While you may be an experienced birder, some folks may be trying this activity for the first time, and vice versa! Be considerate of the interests and skill levels of other birders as well as other visitors.

Last but not least, share these tips with your fellow birders so that we can all Leave No Trace and continue to enjoy this nature-filled pastime.  Happy Birding! 

Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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