[Tweeters] Not sharing information

Teresa Michelsen teresa at avocetconsulting.com
Wed Apr 3 12:34:34 PDT 2013

My feeling is that people personalize this issue way too much. These posts
seem to frequently address how the specific person posting behaves - which
is not the point at all. The same is true of the dog issue. Generalizations
can be made that are reasonably accurate, while not applying to a subset of
people within that group. It should be possible to discuss the larger issue
while not having everyone take it as a personal indictment of themselves.

For example, are dogs in wildlife refuges a problem? Generally speaking,
yes. Some dog owners do not keep them on a leash. Some dogs, even if on a
leash, will bark, try to chase wildlife, interact rambunctiously with other
dogs and people, etc. Wildlife and birds may think of dogs as predators and
behave differently even if the dog is just innocently strolling along being
well-behaved. Does this make all dog-owners and dogs "bad"? Not at all. Does
this mean dogs should not be walked in wildlife refuges? Probably. Just like
any domestic animal, there are places for them and places not for them.
Doesn't mean we don't love them or their owners.

Now we get to the photographers and birders issue, and whether locations
should be shared. Both of these are shades of grey (forgive me for that).
Generally speaking, based on my observations, birders will be happier with
an observation that is less perfect than getting a good photograph requires.
I can get a lifer as soon as I see field marks that satisfy me that it is
not any other bird. This may nevertheless be a not very good look and one
that would produce a terrible photograph. This almost necessarily means that
photographers have two options: 1) get super-high quality equipment that
allows them to take great pictures without disturbing birds/wildlife, or 2)
occasionally or even frequently try to get closer to the bird or at a better
angle, or what have you. Of course there is option 3, which is not trying to
see the bird/get the photograph, but I don't think many birders OR
photographers would be happy with that option.

I think the above provides a perfectly logical explanation for why we see
what we often do, which is less experienced photographers with less good
optics doing what they shouldn't. That said, there are many GREAT
photographers with awesome equipment and high ethics that produce the photos
we all drool over and wish we could take, but don't because we know how much
skill and dedication is required. And there are some birders who are
likewise clueless/careless and do stupid things that disturb the ecosystem.

When it comes to sharing information - I think all of the above are good
reasons to exercise caution. Surely we can all agree that sharing the
location of a Barred Owl is different from sharing the location of a Spotted
Owl. If a particular species is subject to extinction or threatened over
much of its habitat, preservation of the bird outweighs our desire to look
and/or photograph (I personally agree that Burrowing Owls may be in that
category). It's a fact that not all birders and not all photographers (or
the general public for that matter) will treat that location with respect
and it is not something to get personally exercised about, because that
doesn't say anything about you and your behavior - it's a public list, so to
some extent, the lowest common denominator has to inform our choices. The
rest of the birds - yeah, we want to know/see them and that's what this list
is for. And even some of us may be interested to know that there's a Spotted
Owl in downtown Seattle, even if the person cannot divulge its location!
(OK, a little late for April 1).

More than my 2 cents

Teresa Michelsen


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