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The Amateur Birder's Journal - Stories & Photographs by J R Compton

The Current Journal is always Here  All Contents Copyright 2014 and before by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.   
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Older Bird Journal Pages are sometimes huge; give the links time to load. Some of them take a minute or two of waiting.

The American Birding Association's Code of Ethics   ABA Principles of Birding Ethics as a PDF

My Bird Photography Ethics

Plastic Flamingo - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Plastic Dallas Flamingo — October 2012

I saw a friend's ethics page, and thought I should tell readers what I am up to in that regard and how I do it. I have learned that I am unlike anybody else I've ever met, so it's likely that my standards duplicate no other human's. But I like these standards, and I have developed them carefully over the time I've birded — since June 2006.

Although I have not always been, I am as careful as I can be to give my subjects my primary consideration. I will not purposely frighten them, attempt to capture (except photographically) or box them in, nor intrude upon them, if I can help it. But I will seek them out wherever I can safely — to us both — find them.

I will happily use bird blinds, camouflage, hide behind trees or in their shade, but my all-time favorite place to photograph birds from is the wood pier in Sunset Bay at White Rock Lake inside the City Limits of Dallas, Texas, USA. And that is a very public place.

I never have and will not use audio recordings to entice birds, but I sometimes have had no control over what Audubon and other birding guides do. I have twice found myself on "Owl Prowls" where leaders insisted that we never use recordings, then they used just such recordings.

 Thrasher of Rubber Toys - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Rubber Toy thrasher at the annual Wold of Birds show in the Bandshell at the State Fair of Texas — October 2012

Tethered or otherwise captured or held birds being modeled are fair game, although I will not withhold commentary about their handlers or what such birds are doing or being forced or trained to do, or how experienced the handlers seem to be. It's not the toy thrasher above's fault; it's its trainers, and though I still attend The Wold of Birds at the state fair sometimes, I always write it as the scam it is. Popular scam, but still a scam. They say they are doing it to save birds, but I have seen — and of course photographed — their cages, so I know better.

When I see birds being mistreated or trained to pick up money and fly back with it, I say so. I do not withhold negative commentary. I have many opinions, and my web pages are the best place to find them. On another, much larger website, I am an art critic known for dishing it out.

Although I avoid feeding birds other than farm animals — like the geese at White Rock Lake, I hope to install a water fountain in my yard for me and the birds.

I will photograph any birds or animals, wherever they are — on city sidewalks, in or on buildings, in trees, zoos, rehabilitation centers, little or large cages, indoor or outdoor exhibitions, public or private fund-raisers or supposedly wild places where birds are attracted by bait or feeding stations.

In this journal, all birds are my chosen subject — whether they are pets, tame, captive or wild, alive, dead, stuffed or being rehabilitated. I'd prefer they were free, but since they clearly are not, I will photograph them where I find them. It is all part of the ongoing ornithological story that needs telling. I also sometimes include birds as art and art as birds.

 Ragmop House Sparrow Bathing - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ragmop — House Sparrow Taking a Bath — June 2012

I love photographing birds new to me, but if I find pigeons, coots, chickens, grackles, domestic, wild ducks or geese doing something visually interesting like this common House Sparrow taking a bath, I will learn what I can from them, tell their stories and photograph their activities.

I attempt to present my photographs as aesthetically as I can. I have never photographed birds on special perches with artificial backgrounds and perfect light, but given the opportunity, I probably would if I could show as much detail as possible. But I wouldn't present posed images as captured in the wild.

I can't promise to always get them in focus, but if the picture tells a story, I'll use it even if it is not perfect. My Amateur Birders Journal is about birds, of course, but it is also about me finding and photographing them, and I will present my images the best I can.

Thom Hogan has an escellent article on Photographic Myths. Its contents are pertinent to this discussion, and I agree with him.


All text and photographs copyright 2006 – 2014 by J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without
specific written permission from the writer or photographer.

Thanks always to Anna.

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