Everyone who enjoys birds and birding must always respect
wildlife, its environment, and the rights of others. In any
conflict of interest between birds and birders, the welfare of
the birds and their environment comes first.


1. Promote the welfare of birds and their environment.

1(a) Support the protection of important bird habitat.
1(b) To avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger, exercise restraint and caution during observation, photography, sound recording, or filming.
Limit the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds, and never
use such methods in heavily birded areas or for attracting any species that is
Threatened, Endangered, or of Special Concern, or is rare in your local area.
Keep well back from nests and nesting colonies, roosts, display areas, and im-
portant feeding sites. In such sensitive areas, if there is a need for extended
observation, photography, filming, or recording, try to use a blind or hide, and
take advantage of natural cover.
Use artificial light sparingly for filming or photography, especially for
1(c) Before advertising the presence of a rare bird, evaluate the potential for disturbance to the bird, its surroundings, and other people in the area, and proceed
only if access can be controlled, disturbance can be minimized, and permission has been obtained from private land-owners. The sites of rare nesting
birds should be divulged only to the proper conservation authorities.
1(d) Stay on roads, trails, and paths where they exist; otherwise keep habitat disturbance to a minimum.

2. Respect the law and the rights of others.

2(a) Do not enter private property without the owner’s explicit permission.
2(b) Follow all laws, rules, and regulations governing use of roads and public areas,
both at home and abroad.
2(c) Practice common courtesy in contacts with other people. Your exemplary behavior will generate goodwill with birders and non-birders alike.

3. Ensure that feeders, nest structures, and other artificial bird
environments are safe.

3(a) Keep dispensers, water, and food clean and free of decay or disease. It is important to feed birds continually during harsh weather.
3(b) Maintain and clean nest structures regularly.
3(c) If you are attracting birds to an area, ensure the birds are not exposed to predation
from cats and other domestic animals, or dangers posed by artificial hazards.

4. Group birding, whether organized or impromptu, requires special care.
Each individual in the group, in addition to the obligations spelled out in
Items #1 and #2, has responsibilities as a Group Member.

4(a) Respect the interests, rights, and skills of fellow birders, as well as those of
people participating in other legitimate outdoor activities. Freely share your
knowledge and experience, except where code 1(c) applies. Be especially
helpful to beginning birders.
4(b) If you witness unethical birding behavior, assess the situation and intervene if
you think it prudent. When interceding, inform the person(s) of the inappro-
priate action and attempt, within reason, to have it stopped. If the behavior
continues, document it and notify appropriate individuals or organizations.
Group Leader Responsibilities [amateur and professional trips and tours].
4(c) Be an exemplary ethical role model for the group. Teach through word and example.
4(d) Keep groups to a size that limits impact on the environment and does not interfere
with others using the same area.
4(e) Ensure everyone in the group knows of and practices this code.
4(f) Learn and inform the group of any special circumstances applicable to the areas
being visited (e.g., no tape recorders allowed).
4(g) Acknowledge that professional tour companies bear a special responsibility to
place the welfare of birds and the benefits of public knowledge ahead of the
company’s commercial interests. Ideally, leaders should keep track of tour
sightings, document unusual occurrences, and submit records to appropriate


Additional copies of the Code of Birding Ethics can be obtained from:
ABA, P.O. Box 744, Delaware City, DE 19706.
Phone 800-850-2473 or 302-838-3650;; e-mail:

This ABA Code of Birding Ethics may be reprinted, reproduced, and distributed without
restriction. Please acknowledge the role of ABA in developing and promoting this code.