A few Burrowing Owls have arrived on Antelope Island and more will soon migrate to their breeding grounds on the island. Burrowing Owls are enchanting, entertaining and so cute they are irresistible. Everyone seems to love them. I know I can’t resist taking images of them and watching their antics as the young owls grow.
But it is very important at this time of the year prior to nesting that when owls are found at or near a burrow that they be given plenty of space and not harassed otherwise they may find another location to nest in. I’ve already noticed a lot of traffic where the burrow is in the picture above and I hope that people will give the owl space so the it won’t feel harassed or threatened so that everyone will be able to enjoy watching this Burrowing Owl raise its young. Harassing it now may cause it to nest elsewhere.
Every year about this time I try to do a post on ethics for nests and chicks and although these guidelines might seem like common sense there have been times I have seen a lack of that in the field. This doesn’t apply to just the Burrowing Owls but all birds (other wildlife too).
1. Do not approach too closely,
2. If the birds show any sign of distress back away,
3. Don’t trim leaves, twigs or branches to get a clearer shot, you may inadvertently attract predators or cause the eggs/chicks to over heat,
4. Follow local, state and federal guidelines concerning nesting birds,
5. Don’t harass the birds to get an action shot,
6. Don’t stay a long time near a location with nesting birds or chicks, that disrupts their normal behavior
7. Do not use recorded calls to excess, birds need every ounce of energy to attract their mates, defend their territories, breed and rear their young. Calls can cause males to expend energy by reacting to them as if they were an intruder, take them away from the chicks and leave them exposed and calls may also put the birds at risk of predation.
One of the most important things to remember is that an image is never as important as the safety and well being of the subject. Ever.
For more information on the ethics of photographing nesting birds or chicks check out the Principles of Birding Ethics published by the American Birding Association.