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December 2021

Vol. 49, No. 6

BBC Code of Ethics and Conduct

Editor’s Note: Bird Observer supports the Brookline Bird Club’s new Code of Ethics and Conduct for its emphasis on respect for birds, people, and the environment. We print it here as an excellent example for promoting accessibility and inclusion of all birders and protecting birds and their habitats. Please read it.

A note from Leslie Kramer, president of the Brookline Bird Club:

If you are involved with the Brookline Bird Club, we know that you have a great love and appreciation for birds and nature. The BBC has always been and continues to be committed to providing programs in which all participants have a safe and welcoming space to explore their own personal connection to birds and nature. During the past two years, the BBC board formed the Committee on Community and Culture (C and C Committee), which has assisted the club in working toward its mission of building a more diverse, more welcoming community and a culture of inclusion and respect. This Committee took a fresh look at and updated our Code of Ethics and Conduct and Trip Leader Guidelines, all of which reflect who we are as a bird club. The resulting updates emphasize the importance of respect for birds, the environment, and for each other. To learn more about our work or to get involved, please contact the committee at community@brooklinebirdclub.org 

Across Massachusetts and the country, the birding community is moving forward with a new focus on programming that is more accessible to all who want to enjoy nature and policy that promotes safety and inclusion. The BBC is excited to be part of that movement.

Please visit the club’s website to review informative resources and get involved. If you have meaningful resources you would like us to add to this list, please let us know.

BBC Code of Ethics and Conduct

Adapted from the American Birding Association

The Brookline Bird Club expects that its members and participants practice and promote respectful, enjoyable, and thoughtful birding as defined in this code. BBC members, participants, and event leaders are responsible for upholding the terms of this Code of Ethics & Conduct, as follows:

Promote a positive image of bird watching and the club:

  • Act as an ambassador of the BBC and the birding community.
  • Be an exemplary ethical role model by following this Code and leading by example.
  • Share bird observations, as long as such reporting does not put birds or habitat at risk.
  • Never enter private property without the landowner’s permission. Respect the interests of and interact positively with people living in the area where you are birding.
  • Be respectful and follow BBC Guidelines for Birding in Cemeteries.
  • Respect the rules and protocol of public lands.
  • Use courtesy in the use of cell phones and refrain from loud conversation which might disrupt the birding experience of others and/or may be an annoyance for other visitors or neighbors.
  • Always report sightings with honesty and integrity.

Act in ways that do not endanger the welfare of birds and that do not harm the environment and wildlife:

  • Avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger. Be particularly cautious around active nests and nesting colonies, roosts, display sites, and feeding sites.
  • Limit the use of recordings and other audio methods of attracting birds, particularly in heavily birded areas, for species that are rare in the area, and for species that are nesting, threatened, or endangered.
  • Always exercise caution and restraint when photographing, recording, or otherwise approaching birds. Keep an appropriate distance from birds and nests.
  • Stay on trails and minimize habitat disturbance.

Be respectful and considerate of others:

  • Respect fellow birders of all skill levels.
  • Be considerate of people participating in other outdoor activities.
  • Respect and welcome all participants and fellow birders regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, gender identity, age, disability status, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.
  • Be respectful of differing viewpoints, experiences, and cultures.
  • The BBC does not tolerate behavior that disrespects or threatens the well-being, safety, or rights of others, including verbal, physical, or otherwise inappropriate behaviors, including unwanted in-person or online interaction.

If you experience or observe behavior inconsistent with the BBC Code of Ethics and Conduct at a BBC trip or event, please email ethics@brooklinebirdclub.org.

Birding should be fun and help build a better future for birds, for birders, and for all people.

Birds and birding opportunities are shared resources that should be open and accessible to all.


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Our mission: to support and promote the observation, understanding, and conservation of the wild birds of New England.

Bird Observer supports the right of all people to enjoy birding and nature in a safe and welcoming environment free from discrimination and harrassment, be it sexual, racial, or barriers for people with disabilities.